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Can Gov. Ron DeSantis legally lower flags for Rush Limbaugh? Palm Beach County commissioner wants to know

Agriculture commissioner tells state offices to 'disregard' governor's directive
Posted at 3:18 PM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 22:46:04-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — One day after a South Florida mayor called on other state leaders to challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis on his intent to lower flags in honor of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, at least one Palm Beach County commissioner is also pushing back.

The controversy stems from comments DeSantis made during an appearance Friday in West Palm Beach, where he said the state is "going to be lowering the flags to half-staff."

Commissioner Melissa McKinlay said Monday she would ask Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker the legality of DeSantis' directive.

"I'm trying not to make this a political issue, and I know I've already gotten a ton of emails," Oakland Park Mayor Jane Bolin said.

Oakland Park Mayor Jane Bolin
Oakland Park Mayor Jane Bolin claims the governor's intent to lower the flags for Rush Limbaugh violates Florida protocol.

Bolin said it comes down to the U.S. flag code and what it says about the half-staff honor.

Section 256.015 of the Florida statutes states that the governor "shall adopt a protocol on flag display" that provides guidelines for lowering the flag to half-staff "upon the death of high-ranking state officials, uniformed law enforcement and fire service personnel, and prominent citizens."

"It just crosses the line a bit, and I wouldn't want to see this on either side," Bolin said.

Peter Feaman, a Boynton Beach resident with the National Republican Committee, supports the measure.

"The governor has the authority to do this, and it should be respected," Feaman said.

Peter Feaman
Peter Feaman with the National Republican Committee believes Gov. Ron DeSantis is within his right to lower flags for Rush Limbaugh.

Meanwhile, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said she will tell state offices under her purview "to disregard the governor's forthcoming order to lower flags for Mr. Limbaugh, because we will not celebrate hate speech, bigotry and division."

Limbaugh, 70, died last week of complications from lung cancer.

Former President Donald Trump awarded Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom during his State of the Union Address last year.

"I think it's justified here," Feaman said. "If somebody received the American Medal of Freedom, and I disagreed with their political philosophy, it wouldn't matter. I'd still give them the respect they're entitled to."

West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James also said he will not fly flags at half-staff after conferring with city attorneys.

DeSantis has not officially given the order. He said he will wait until memorial plans for Limbaugh are finalized.