Former Gov. and current U.S. Sen. Rick Scott violated a former state election official’s constitutional rights when he suspended and “vilified” her without first allowing her to make her own case, a Florida federal judge ruled Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said newly inaugurated Gov. Ron DeSantis must grant former Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes a “meaningful opportunity to be heard” regarding her suspension by March 31. Snipes came under fire during the contentious recount that followed the 2018 elections and a legally required recount in close races for governor and U.S. Senate. In the aftermath of the November election, Snipes said she would resign on Jan. 4, but Scott immediately suspended her. Snipes then attempted to rescind her resignation and challenged the governor’s suspension as “malicious” and politically motivated.
Walker ruled that Scott’s decision was an “effective termination” and violated Snipes’ due process rights. The judge also said that Scott’s order suspending Snipes contained “falsehoods.”
Still, Walker said he does not have the authority to reinstate Snipes, writing that the court is “not determining what the ultimate outcome will or should be.”
Attorneys for Scott had argued the governor had the authority to remove her from office. Neither Scott nor DeSantis immediately responded to requests for comment on the decision.