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DeSantis says he'll pardon people who violate mask laws

DeSantis says he'll pardon people who violate mask laws
© getty: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisSunday shows preview: Biden foreign policy in focus as Dem tensions boil up back home Demings raises million after announcing Senate bid against Rubio Florida Board of Education bans critical race theory MORE (R) issued an executive order on Thursday that says he would pardon anyone who violated mask mandates.

DeSantis, who is seen as a possible contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, has often been critical of mask mandates and strict COVID-19 mitigation measures. He has been a heavy proponent of reopening the state as soon as possible.

The executive order signed by DeSantis on Thursday grants a sixty-day reprieve to anyone who is facing charges or has been convicted of nonviolent offenses for violating local COVID-19 restrictions.

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The order notes that he intends to meet with the state’s Board of Clemency on June 16, and “fully intend to propose a statewide, categorical grant of a full pardon to any such individual or business.”

DeSantis first announced the move during an appearance on Fox News’s “The Ingraham Angle” on Wednesday.

“These things with health should be advisory, they should not be punitive,” the governor said.

DeSantis was joined by Mike and Jillian Carnevale, a couple who claims they were arrested for violating a county mask mandate at their gym in Broward County.

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Mike Carnevale told Ingraham that after gyms reopened, Broward County issued an order requiring facial coverings to be worn during strenuous exercise. He claimed that 24 hours after the couple sued over it, they were arrested.

Mike Carnevale further said they were arrested three times. They were offered jail time, but declined, and he now claims he is facing six months in jail.

A spokesperson for the Broward County State’s Attorney told The Hill that the couple was offered to dismiss the case after they completed a diversion program, but they refused. Broward County Judge Robert Diaz offered 10 days in jail, which they also turned down.

DeSantis told Ingraham that he would sign the reprieve Thursday, delaying their case for sixty days. He also said after the state’s clemency board meets, that he’ll pardon the couple, as well as “any Floridian that may have outstanding infractions for things like masks and social distancing.” 

Broward State Attorney Harold F. Pryor said in a statement released Thursday afternoon and shared with The Hill, “The cases are pending and we will continue to follow the law unless and until the Governor takes official action.”