MIAMI (CNN) – Gov. Rick Scott could be the next Florida leader in the hot seat in the ongoing battle between Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and his rank and file deputies.
If a vote of no confidence against Israel goes as the president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association expects — an overwhelming vote of no confidence — the union plans to ask Scott to remove Israel from office.
“We are asking you to step in and to remove the sheriff,” union President Jeff Bell said he plans to tell the governor after the vote.
The announcement to hold a vote of no confidence was made Friday and voting closes Thursday at 2 p.m. The union cited “many instances of malfeasance, misfeasance … and the lack of leadership” as reasons to hold the vote.
But the union said it was the sheriff’s handling of the Parkland school shooting that took the rank and file over the edge — including when the sheriff touted his “amazing leadership” on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper.
Israel said Friday that the no confidence vote was “unfortunate and appalling” and called it a “ploy” to advance salary negotiations.
According to Florida statue, Scott has the power to suspend the sheriff for things like “malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty” and “may fill the office by appointment for the period of suspension.” The actual power to remove the sheriff from office is in the hands of the state Senate.
CNN’s emails and calls for comment to the Florida Senate’s Office of the President were not returned. But according to the body’s website, it is their “responsibility to make final dispositions” on whether to reinstate a suspended official or remove him from office.
The governor has not commented on what he will do after the no confidence vote is tallied.
Eleven days after the February 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and 73 other Republican representatives sent a letter to Scott, asking him to suspend the sheriff for what they called his “incompetence and neglect of duty.” The lawmakers also cited the failure of Scott and his deputies to enter the school building to stop the shooter, and their failure to act on warning signs about the shooter for years.
The governor did not suspend the sheriff at that time but did launch a state investigation, which is being conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Scott exercised his power to suspend a sheriff in 2016, after then-Marion County Sheriff Chris Blair was indicted on two counts of perjury. In that case, Scott appointed an interim sheriff.
Since the no confidence vote against Israel started last week, two other unions, The Federation Of Public Employees and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #53 have written letters of support for the sheriff.
“As your largest union, we support you and have confidence in how you are running this large complex agency,” said the letter from the public employees’ union.
That union says it represents 2,500 Broward Sheriff’s Office employees.
While the no confidence vote against Israel is symbolic, Bell said it represents the collective voice of the rank and file deputies, and he plans to use that voice to pressure the governor to act.
If the governor doesn’t act, “That means that the governor agrees the sheriff is an amazing leader,” Bell said.