DeSantis taps self-described 'Florida gun lawyer' to oversee elections

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In this March 26, 2021, record  photo, authorities   Rep. Cord Byrd speaks during statement   connected  HB 1, known arsenic  the "anti-riot bill," during a House league   astatine  the Florida Capitol successful  Tallahassee.

(CNN)Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has enactment successful complaint of the state's predetermination systems a profoundly blimpish authorities lawmaker who has championed authorities to prohibition alleged sanctuary cities and calls himself the "Florida weapon lawyer."

DeSantis announced connected Friday the assignment of authorities Rep. Cord Byrd arsenic the adjacent caput of state, a time aft the existent officeholder, Laurel Lee, announced she was resigning. Byrd takes implicit the Florida Department of State astatine a captious juncture successful the agency's history: For the archetypal time, the bureau volition oversee a caller predetermination information force with unprecedented authorization to hunt for predetermination and voting violations successful the state. The caller predetermination unit was a apical precedence for DeSantis, who signed a instrumentality to make the Office of Election Crimes and Security earlier this year.

"Under the enactment of Governor DeSantis, Florida has led the mode connected predetermination information and preserving state for its residents," Byrd said successful a statement. "As Secretary of State, I volition marque definite Florida continues to person unafraid elections and that we support the state of our citizens successful the look of big-tech censorship and ever-growing cybersecurity threats."

    The alteration successful enactment comes amid a engaged midterm predetermination rhythm wherever DeSantis volition beryllium connected the ballot, and with the Department of State embroiled successful aggregate lawsuits implicit Florida's caller legislature representation and a 2021 instrumentality that enactment caller restrictions connected mail-in voting and different predetermination measures. On Thursday, a authorities justice called the caller DeSantis-backed legislature boundaries unconstitutional due to the fact that they diminish the powerfulness of Black voters successful bluish Florida, but an appellate tribunal connected Friday stayed the little court's ruling.

      Lee, the outgoing caput of state, has earned praise for being a dependable manus from the region predetermination officials who oversee voting crossed the state. Supporters of erstwhile President Donald Trump person astatine times enactment immense unit connected Lee and region predetermination officials to behaviour an Arizona-style reappraisal of the 2020 election, adjacent though Trump won Florida by a steadfast margin. Lee rejected those efforts, saying past twelvemonth that the results successful 2020 were "accurate, reliable."

      In tapping Byrd for the post, DeSantis noted the lawmaker's sponsorship of a fistful of divisive bills successful caller years, including authorities to prohibition sanctuary cities and a 2021 measurement signed by the politician that placed caller restrictions connected protests successful the aftermath of civilian unrest pursuing the constabulary sidesplitting of George Floyd. A justice halted implementation of the bill, calling it unconstitutional and a "trap for the innocent."

      Byrd is simply a lawyer from Neptune Beach. His signifier specializes successful firearms-related cases, according to his website, specified arsenic helping clients get revoked concealed limb licenses reinstated oregon appealing a firearm acquisition denial. On the tract and on Facebook, Byrd refers to himself arsenic the "Florida weapon lawyer."

        Earlier this year, authorities Rep. Angie Nixon, a Black Democratic lawmaker, accused Byrd of "antagonizing and cussing astatine Black Caucus members" during level statement connected a measure to prohibition termination aft 15 weeks of pregnancy. Nixon said Byrd had hurled expletives astatine them arsenic protesters staged a objection successful the House gallery.

        Byrd, successful response, did not contradict utilizing the expletive but said it was not directed astatine authorities lawmakers and called Nixon a "one-trick pony" who routinely claims governmental opponents are racists and White supremacists, according to Florida Politics.

          "Cord Byrd has been an state of state and ideology successful the Florida Legislature, and I americium assured helium volition transportation that ngo guardant arsenic Secretary of State," DeSantis said successful a statement. "I look guardant to his successes ensuring Florida's elections stay safe, unafraid and well-administered."

          Cord is the 2nd Byrd appointed by DeSantis to a authorities station this year. In March, DeSantis named Byrd's wife, Esther, to the authorities Board of Education. The assignment resurfaced Esther Byrd's societal media history, which included posts that seemed to picture the January 6, 2021, onslaught connected the US Capitol arsenic "Trump supporters peacefully protest," portion besides alluding to "the coming civilian wars." Cord Byrd told a Jacksonville tv station that the remarks from his woman were "hyperbole."

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