Ron DeSantis' private police force?

Over the weekend, Gov. DeSantis’ paramilitary approach to “public safety” is already running into criticism, Iowa’s abortion ban takes effect, and RFK Jr. prepares to meet before a Jim Jordan-led committee.


  • OHIO SENATE: Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is taking a break from attempting to make it more difficult for women to access abortion in the Buckeye State to announce he’s running for U.S. Senate.
  • IOWA ABORTION LAW: The six-week ban bill hurriedly passed by the Iowa legislature and signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) on Friday has been blocked by a state judge.
  • DEPT. OF “I GUESS WE’RE STILL DOING THIS”: Six Republican secretaries of state sent a letter to Congress asking for an investigation into the 2020 election.

New Florida public safety program faces backlash from participants

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) revival of the State Guard has hit a speed bump: Veterans involved with the initial volunteer force allege that the program has taken on a paramilitary tinge.

DeSantis is reconstituting the program as a response to declining recruit numbers in the state’s National Guard.

“The bureaucrats in D.C. who control our National Guard have also refused to increase the number of guardsmen despite our increasing population, leaving Florida with the second-worst National Guardsman-to-resident ratio,” Mr. DeSantis said following the announcement of the State Guards’ return last year.

The State Guard was a World War II-era state defense force organized at a time when the U.S. military was deploying National Guard forces in the European and Japanese theaters, and its modern iteration is supposed to be reserved for assisting Floridians during natural disasters.

But former volunteers for the revamped State Guard, many of whom have military backgrounds, are now coming out against the program after several incidents of abuse were reported. These same whistleblowers also stated that it appears to resemble more of a militia than a public safety force.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, following the program’s introductory training sessions this past June, a disabled veteran participating in the program contacted police after he was “battered by Florida National Guard instructors when they forcibly shoved him into a van after he questioned the program and its leadership.”

Other participants felt the State Guard had been “hijacked and turned into something that we were trying to stay away from a militia,” according to another veteran, Brian Newhouse, who had been brought on to guide the launch of the program.

Those representing the building of the new Guard did little to assuage such criticism. Maj. Gen. John D. Haas, who supervises the Florida National Guard, stated that the State Guard in, in fact, a “military organization” which will be “aiding law enforcement with riots and illegal immigration.”

About one out of five of the original 150 volunteers for the force have dropped out, The New York Times reported on Saturday. Participants have described the training sessions as being reminiscent of “Full Metal Jacket.”

On top of this, the State Guard’s leadership team has already been reshuffled three times over since last December.

Because it’s not tied to the National Guard network overseen by the federal government, the State Guard answers to Florida’s executive branch alone. Recently, lawmakers in the state announced they would seek to pour $89 million dollars in additional funding — up from just $10 million — to the program to allow for boats, planes and helicopters to be included in the State Guard’s arsenal.

They also revealed they would want a specific task force within the Guard to have policing powers and carry weapons — a detail that would be unorthodox for State Guards.


  • 2024 GOP PRIMARY: Can’t get enough of the field of Republican candidates preparing to lose to Donald Trump? Well, do we have a treat for you. Tomorrow, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will sit down with Jake Tapper for an interview on CNN. And Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) will attend a town hall in New Hampshire with Sean Hannity and Fox News tomorrow as well. On Friday, Chris Christie will host a town hall in South Carolina.
  • RFK JR. WATCH: The off-the-rails presidential candidate is scheduled to appear before Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-OH) “Weaponization of the Federal Government” committee on Thursday. His appearance comes after a video was leaked of him suggesting COVID was designed to spare Jews and Chinese people.

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Jamie Larson