The office of the Governor of Florida carries great power. One of its powers is to appoint officials to various oversight positions. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ appointments of Cory and Esther Byrd to oversee elections and education in Florida are a case in point.
In May, DeSantis appointed Rep. Cory Byrd as Secretary of State, heading up elections. Rep. Byrd has been a staunch supporter of new election laws in Florida, which makes it harder to vote (the new laws faced court challenges). This spring, he aligned himself with Gov. DeSantis in the redistricting process, even voting against his own party’s proposed congressional maps.
Rep. Byrd has repeatedly refused to state that President Joe Biden won the election, pointing instead to “irregularities” in states other than Florida. He told reporters that more changes to election laws may be needed after the 2022 elections. His State Department will oversee the newly created Office of Election Crimes and Security.
In March, Gov. DeSantis appointed Representative Byrd’s wife, Esther, to the Florida Board of Education. The State Board of Education oversees K-12 schools and universities and will be the body in charge of hearing administrative appeals for violations of the Parental Rights in Education Bill when it becomes law. A former Marine, Mrs. Byrd previously worked for her husband’s law office. However, she is better known for her incendiary posts following the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection. She defended those “peacefully protesting” the certification of the 2020 Presidential Election.
She wrote: “In the coming civil wars (We the People vs the Radical Left and We the People cleaning up the Republican Party), team rosters are being filled. Every elected official in DC will pick one. There are only 2 teams. … With Us (or) Against Us. We the People will NOT forget!”
Her husband stated that these posts are “hyperbole,” and shortly afterward, the Byrds deleted their Twitter accounts. Mrs. Byrd has also publicly defended the Proud Boys and Q-Anon. This is the person who now sets policy for Florida’s education system.
The governor has every right to appoint people of his choice to state positions. However, Gov. DeSantis has used this power to further his extremist agenda for elections and education. Floridians need to recognize that DeSantis' appointments are weakening the security of our election process and the quality of our educational system.