Florida Governor Suspends Sheriff After Arrest for Evidence Tampering

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has officially suspended Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels one day after he was arrested on felony charges related to a sex scandal.

Daniels was arrested Thursday on one felony count of tampering with evidence, along with three misdemeanor counts of providing false information to law enforcement. Prosecutors say he illegally ordered the arrest of a former mistress and attempted to interfere with their investigation by destroying cell phone data.

"It is in the best interests of the residents of the Clay County, and the citizens of the State of Florida, that Darryl Daniels be immediately suspended from public office," DeSantis wrote in the order issued Friday.

Daniels is prohibited from receiving any pay or privileges during the suspension and forbidden from performing any official duties or functions of public office, until a new order is issued. It is unclear whether or when DeSantis will name a replacement.

Newsweek reached out to the office of DeSantis for comment.

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Republican candidates for Sheriff of Clay County, Florida are facing off in a primary election on August 18, 2020. passion4nature/Getty

Prosecutors say that Daniels called one of his deputies in May 2019 to report that he was in "imminent danger" due to being followed by a "stalker." The alleged stalker was Cierra Smith, a former employee that Daniels had been having an affair with for 6 years.

Smith thought she would be meeting with Daniels at their normal meeting spot for the first time since the affair was revealed to Daniels' wife. Instead, the sheriff had allegedly hatched a plan for her to be illegally arrested. His wife, who later filed for divorce, was filming the incident, according to The Washington Post.

Daniels was released yesterday following his arrest and made a video claiming that the investigation was politically motivated. Daniels is a Republican, like DeSantis, and his arrest came only days before he was expected to compete in a primary as part of his reelection effort.

"I want you to look past the smoke screen of dirty politics," the sheriff said in the video. "One thing I take ownership of as a man is my failures as a husband. That has nothing to do with me as a sheriff."

Daniels also claimed that State Attorney Brad King had offered him a deal where he could have avoided arrest by resigning and dropping his reelection bid. On Friday, King denied that any such arrangement had been proposed.

Last month, Daniels insisted that politics was the reason the investigation had lasted for more than a year, while maintaining that his ordeal had upset locals who felt sympathy due to authorities "picking on" him.

"It feels political to me," Daniels told WJXT. "It feels political to a lot of people, and it's actually upsetting to the citizens of Clay County, because they're going, they say, 'Wait a minute, I thought this was put to bed,' no pun intended, and they say, 'Why are they picking on my sheriff?'"

Daniels, who is the county's first Black sheriff, also made headlines last month for threatening to deputize all gun owners in Clay County if Black Lives Matter protesters engaged in "lawlessness," despite there being no reports of ongoing demonstrations in the area.