Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office is accusing Palm Beach County leadership of being “petty” this week after officials there defied his order to lower flags at half-staff in honor of the late conservative broadcaster Rush Limbaugh.
The county’s courthouse flags remained at full-staff Wednesday, ignoring a request DeSantis made on Tuesday directing its U.S. and Florida flags to be flown at half staff. He also ordered the town of Palm Beach and the State Capitol in Tallahassee to fly their flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Wednesday — and those flags were lowered.
“The lowering of flags should be a unifying gesture during solemn occasions, such as in remembrance of the young lives lost during the Parkland High School massacre or first responder line of duty deaths,” Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay had tweeted. “Although Rush Limbaugh was a significant public figure, he was also an incredibly divisive one who hurt many people with his words and actions.”
The county told The Associated Press on Wednesday that it was following “normal protocols.”
But the governor’s press office issued a statement in response, saying “it is unfortunate that Palm Beach County would rather engage in petty politics than honor the death of one of their county’s and state’s most prominent residents and a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient.”
A year ago, then-President Donald Trump awarded Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, during his final State of the Union address. The day before, Limbaugh — who for decades championed conservatism — had announced that he was battling advanced lung cancer.
Officials in the town of Palm Beach, the wealthy island enclave where Limbaugh lived for two decades, issued a statement saying its policy is to comply with the governor’s orders to lower the flags.
Flags are typically lowered to honor prominent government officials as well as law enforcement officers and members of the military killed in the line of duty. DeSantis has said Limbaugh’s stature justified the honor.
Limbaugh, 70, died of lung cancer on Feb. 17. DeSantis called Limbaugh a legend during a news conference two days later and indicated he would direct flags to be flown at half-staff to honor him.
However, Democrats elsewhere in the state – even though they were not ordered to lower flags at their buildings — objected to the gesture.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman posted on Twitter that his city would not “honor hatred, racism, bigotry, homophobia, or anything else [Limbaugh] has spewed over the years.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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