Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ staff bristled online at a Huffinton Post headline about the execution Thursday night of Donald Dillbeck, who became the state’s first death-row inmate to be executed in three years.
DeSantis’ team objected to the framing of the Huffington Post article, the headline of which reads “Florida Executes Man Used As ‘Political Pawn’ By Ron DeSantis.”
“We stand firmly behind HuffPost’s award-winning reporting on the criminal justice system,” a spokesperson for HuffPost said.
Dillbeck was convicted of killing two people two years ago by a non-unanimous jury. He killed Fay Vann, whose family thanked DeSantis for carrying out the death sentence. Journalist Jessica Schulberg made the connection of DeSantis signing Dillbeck’s death warrent the same day he suggested reinstating non-unanimous juries to decide death sentences, covered by The Tampa Bay Times.
The Times journalist Dan Sullivan also reported some of Dillbeck’s final words, with which he addressed DeSantis.
“I know I hurt people when I was young. I really messed up,” Dillbeck said. “But I know Ron DeSantis has done a lot worse. He’s taken a lot from a lot of people. I speak for all men, women, and children. He’s put his foot on our necks. Ron DeSantis and other people like him can suck our d–ks.”
Multiple spokespeople for the Florida governor responded to the “political pawn” connection.
“Perspective… this monster killed a police officer, went to jail, escaped, stabbed this mom to death in a parking lot at the Tallahassee Mall at random, and Huffington Post thinks HE is the victim,” wrote Christina Pushaw, a director on DeSantis’ campaign team.
Jeremy Redfern, DeSantis’ deputy press secretary, responded with a tweet that reads “What is wrong with you?”
Conservative radio host John Cardillo claimed that Schulberg omitted the victim’s family’s letter, though she linked the statement in her story.
“‘This guy killed two people but thinks Ron DeSantis is worse’ stories starting to appear are how you know the left fears DeSantis way more than any other politician, talk show host Dan O’Donnell wrote on Twitter.