Maxwell Frost leads pseudo-hearing slamming Ron DeSantis as fascist authoritarian

Maxwell Alejandro Frost
Witnesses, including Andrew Warren and Anna Eskamani, flew to Washington to decry abuses of power.

Democratic members of Congress labeled Gov. Ron DeSantis a “fascist” at an unofficial hearing on the Florida leader’s alleged anti-democratic policies.

“We’re here because the third-largest state in our union, home to around 22 million people, has an extremist Governor and state Legislature that are dismantling democracy before our very eyes,” said U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost.

The Orlando Democrat, a member of the House Oversight Committee, said he had called for congressional investigations of state governments trampling on democratic ideals. But the Republican majority hasn’t answered those calls. Instead, Frost asked several Democratic politicians and activists to testify in an “Emergency Ad Hoc Hearing on Anti-Democratic Abuses in Florida.”

Importantly, that means the hearing lacked the balance of a typical congressional hearing. Held in the Capitol Visitor Center, only Democratic lawmakers participated in questioning witnesses, all of whom came at the invite of the Democratic lawmaker, whereas the majority and minority caucuses in committees normally invite slates of witnesses on hearing subjects.

The resulting event played out more like a two-hour indictment of what Democrats feel are the greatest abuses of power by Florida’s Republican Governor, who notably launched a campaign for President in May.

DeSantis’ office, for its part, largely ignored the event in Washington. “I didn’t see the event Rep. Frost held in Washington, actually,” said DeSantis Press Secretary Jeremy Redfern. “Either way, this is a stunt. We aren’t going to waste our time on stunts.”

Witnesses included suspended Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren, who won a second term in 2020 but was taken off the job by the Governor last year.

Warren compared DeSantis actions to authoritarian rule in North Korea. He pointed to U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s opinion that Warren had been illegally removed Warren from office for political purposes, though the judge dismissed the case from federal court citing jurisdictional issues.

“DeSantis has shown remarkable disdain for the laws he has sworn to uphold,” Warren told lawmakers in Washington. “If you cross the Governor, you are at risk of political reprisal.”

The same day Warren testified, the Florida Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit in state court where Warren sought to be reinstated. Warren continues to appeal his federal case.

U.S. Rep. Dan Goldman, a New York Democrat, suggested the state Supreme Court decision was the result of the body in the last five years becoming stacked with DeSantis appointees, where five of seven justices were named by the Governor.

State Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat, testified that in recent years, Republicans have effectively turned the entire state government into a single apparatus controlled by the Governor and GOP supermajorities in the Legislature.

“Actions have comprised the legislative process,” she said. “They have consolidated between the three branches of government, eroded personal freedoms, attacked public education, threatened our economy and then preempted local government authority, which has stripped our neighborhoods and our municipalities of their ability to solve everyday problems.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democratic Co-Chair of the Florida congressional delegation, said DeSantis’ tactics bear all the marks of fascism, from removing books from libraries with dissenting political views, to criminalizing protests and punishing officials who offer anything but “unquestioning obedience” to the state leader.

“Each of the Floridians on this panel can say all elements are gleefully met,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Brian Covey, a substitute teacher fired in Duval County after posting a video of empty bookshelves in a school library, said he was fired from his job a day after the Governor publicly called his video “fake.” He said policies allowing any member of the public to challenge books has led to an unreasonable vetting process for materials, denying access to materials to students for months.

And Equal Ground Founder Jasmine Burney-Clark said efforts to restrict access to voting disproportionately hurt Black communities in the state to better the political atmosphere for Republicans.

“Florida has become a breeding ground for voter suppression laws,” she said. Her group has challenged a congressional redistricting map and numerous changes to voting laws including the outlawing of early voting drop boxes.

The hearing, lacking any Republican voices, offered a platform for numerous Democrats to publicly attack DeSantis as a presidential candidate.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, nicked DeSantis and Republicans for preempting a rent control ordinance in Orlando after voters overwhelmingly approved it. U.S. Rep. Jasmine Crockett, a Texas Democrat, suggested that states, including her own, are following a path toward autocracy that turned governors into effective dictators. U.S. Rep. Gerry Connelly, a Virginia Democrat, simply compared DeSantis quotes to historical authoritarian leaders around the world including Chile’s Augusto Pinochet and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Michael K

    June 22, 2023 at 4:44 pm

    Good for Mr. Frost: sunshine is always the best disinfectant. Of course, this governor has obliterated sunshine laws designed to provide transparency. Beginning to think he’s a vampire – afraid to see the light of day – or justice or fairness.

  • tom palmer

    June 22, 2023 at 6:17 pm

    Just for the record, Florida is the 22nd largest state, but it is the third most populous, which is why we have so many problems with environmental pollution, traffic congestion and water shortages. Rather than calling DeSantis names, perhaps the Democrats should work on electing more people to the Legislature so that they can set better policies rather than sitting helplessly on the sidelines whining about them.

    • Dr. Franklin Waters

      June 23, 2023 at 12:08 am

      Ever heard of Gerrymandering, Tom?
      The GOP knows their policies are unpopular with the majority so they’ve rigged the election map in their favor to make sure Democrats can’t get elected to the Legislature.

      They can’t win fairly so they’ve rigged the game in their favor.
      This isn’t even up for debate. It’s proven fact.

  • Dont Say FLA

    June 22, 2023 at 7:09 pm

    Rhonda seems to be rather confused as to whether books are scary or if it’s empty bookshelves that are scary. Stupid Rhonda can’t keep their story straight about whatever they’re claiming to be bent about today. Rhonda’s moral compass seems to be self centered.

  • Earl Pitts American

    June 22, 2023 at 9:29 pm

    Good evening America,
    Now lets get this straight:
    1.) Fake hearing.
    2.) Making disparaging remarks against America’s Most Beloved Govornor.
    Lets see now America….someone bring my calculator…OK now… what we got here is a simple math equation….tap tap tap…carry the one…tap tap.
    OK America here ya go:
    3.) Maxwell Frost = A Dook 4 Brains Leftist and a comedian.
    Thank you America, this Max Frost article was way more entertaining than informative.
    Oh well so theres that.
    Have a great evening America,
    Earl Pitts American

  • PeterH

    June 22, 2023 at 9:31 pm

    Maxwell should stay away from this type of politics! Please don’t start imitating MTG or Luna!

    Stick to policies and advance something positive for Florida residents!

  • It's Complicated

    June 23, 2023 at 9:00 am

    This stuff is a variant of Godwin’s Law, where extreme analogies are offered in lieu of a cogent or a well-articulated case to support one’s position. It is prima facia evidence that Democrats are losing the cultural war.

    Not saying DeSantis is not heavy-handed or sometimes engages in political bludgeoning, because he is and he does. But the Democrats are not ‘flipping’ folks from the center-to-right to their leftist positions with this sort of rhetoric and fake hearings.

  • Lex

    June 23, 2023 at 9:08 am

    Being a part of a Democracy means that one elected official like Andrew Warren is not allowed to pick and choose which laws to enforce. Andrew Warren was not elected to make laws. You do the job you were elected and no more and enforce the laws the legislature passes. If you are not going to do the job you were elected, then you get fired. That is exactly what happened Andrew Warren.

    The reason that Desantis has been able to do as much as he has in Florida is not because of authoritarianism, it is because Desantis has been able to consolidate a consensus. Desantis has also been able to consolidate this consensus because of how insanely radical the Left has become.

    The actual fascists are all on the Left. The Left are the ones censoring, deplatforming, limiting viewpoints and calling their enemies hyperbolic epithets like racists. The Left plays scorched earth politics where there can be no room for other viewpoints. Maxwell Frost, you need to look in the mirror and at those you stand beside honestly before you label your opponents. Your point of view may have value, but your tactics are much worse than your opponents.

  • Joe

    June 23, 2023 at 12:08 pm

    C’mon Jeremy Redfart — all your administration does is waste your time on stunts!

  • Conservative always

    June 23, 2023 at 12:18 pm

    Ron DeSantis *incumbent – Republican 4,614,307 +59.4%59.4%
    Charlie Crist – Democrat 3,106,328 +40.0%40.0

    The FL Legislature won Supermajorities in both Chambers.
    They are doing the will of the People.

  • Cheesy Floridian

    June 24, 2023 at 10:13 am

    I think this is great and more people need to hear what it’s like to live in the state of Florida. I mean look at the numbers that “conservative always” posted. Frost says we have 22million people and yet only about 7 million decided who would run Florida. So when DeSantis says this is the will of the people for only about 4 million who voted for him. That’s not the whole state.

  • martin

    June 26, 2023 at 2:22 pm

    Cheesy: And whose is it fault for not voting.
    Either lead, follow, or get out of the way.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704