Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) announced Monday that she will instruct offices under her control to defy Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order to lower the flags in the state to half-staff in honor of conservative talk radio legend Rush Limbaugh, who passed away last week.
What are the details?
Limbaugh, a longtime resident of Palm Beach, Florida, passed away at 70 on Wednesday from lung cancer, and will be buried in the state. DeSantis announced Friday during a news conference that “once the date of interment for Rush is announced, we’re going to be lowering flags to half-staff.”
“There’s not much that needs to be said, the guy was an absolute legend,” DeSantis said of Limbaugh. “He was a friend of mine and just a great person.”
But some Democrats expressed outrage over the Republican governor’s decision to honor Limbaugh, who was idolized by many on the political right but despised by many on the left.
Fried, whom the Tampa Bay Times noted is the only statewide elected Democrat, issued a statement declaring outright that she will openly refuse to carry out the order.
“Lowering to half-staff the flag of the United States of America is a sacred honor that pays respect to fallen heroes and patriots,” Fried said in a statement. “It is not a partisan political tool. Therefore, I will notify all state offices under my direction to disregard the Governor’s forthcoming order to lower flags for Mr. Limbaugh – because we will not celebrate hate speech, bigotry, and division.”
The agriculture chief added, “Lowering the flag should always reflect unity, not division, and raising our standards, not lowering them. Our flags will remain flying high to celebrate the American values of diversity, inclusion, and respect for all.”
According to WFLA-TV, “Fried’s office oversees a number of state facilities, including nine regional licensing offices, 38 state forests, and 23 agricultural law enforcement inspection stations.”
The Hill reached out to DeSantis’ office for comment in reaction to Fried’s statement on Monday, but did not receive an immediate response.
Also, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, also a Democrat, announced in a tweet that city flags also won’t be lowered to honor Limbaugh. Instead, the flags will be lowered to honor Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy Michael Magli, who died last week after he was struck by a pickup truck, Kriseman said.
Limbaugh’s widow, Kathryn, also announced Monday that a virtual memorial service will be held in the coming weeks to give tribute to her husband, Fox News reported.
“We are in the initial stages of planning a celebration of life that will be able to be viewed by all of the audience and friends and extended family at some point in the near future,” Mrs. Limbaugh said. “We don’t have an exact date just yet, we’re working on some of the logistics.”