TAMPA (WFLA) – There is more fallout from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to remove Andrew Warren from his job as the State Attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County.
The Chief Communications Officer who started her job in May claims she has been unlawfully terminated.
Melanie Snow-Waxler has retained labor and employment attorney Ryan Barack.
“This illegal firing is part of a troubling pattern of retaliation,” Barack said in a press release Monday.
After Gov. DeSantis replaced the twice-elected State Attorney Andrew Warren with Susan Lopez, Snow-Waxler said she was told she had to report to Fred Piccolo, a former Communications Director for the governor.
“During the next few days, Ms. Snow-Waxler observed the disturbing politicization of the communications issued by the Office of the State Attorney,” Barack said.
According to Snow-Waxler’s attorney, she was told she could not send out any communications, interact with reporters or attend meetings without specific instructions to do so.
On Friday, Snow-Waxler said she was given an ultimatum; either resign and get paid through the end of the month or she’d be fired on the spot. Her attorney said she refused to step down.
“This was an exciting opportunity for me as I have always believed in criminal justice reform,” Snow-Waxler said in a statement. “My goal was ensuring that the residents of Hillsborough County received timely, truthful information about the actions of the State Attorney to keep our community safe and pursue justice. I will continue to provide truthful information to the public. I will fight for justice.”
Gov. DeSantis suspended Snow-Waxler’s former boss on August 4.
He accused Warren of neglecting his duty, citing comments he made saying he would not enforce current or potential state laws regarding transgender health care and abortion.
“That is what the legislature has enacted and it’s not for him to put himself above that,” the governor previously said at a press conference with local law enforcement, including Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister and former Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan.
Warren has vowed to fight what he called an abuse of power in court.
“I have a feeling this is gonna be just as unconstitutional as the 15-week abortion ban,” Warren said in his first public comments after the suspension.
A spokesperson for Gov. DeSantis declined to answer News Channel 8’s questions about the termination of Snow-Waxler as the Chief Communications Officer.