BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – Broward Sheriff Scott Israel has refused to publicly discuss the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into him and his agency regarding BSO's multiple failures in responding to the Parkland shooting, but he had his personal attorney go on the radio Thursday morning to deny an internet report.
Attorney Stuart Kaplan went on a WFTL-850 morning show to address an unconfirmed report by right-wing blogger Laura Loomer, who claimed that Gov. Rick Scott would remove Israel from office when the FDLE report is released.
She further claimed this would happen next week and that it would happen not because of BSO's failures at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but due to unknown criminal matters.
"What you have reported is completely false," Kaplan told Loomer, who was also a guest on the show.
When asked by the host if the sheriff is under criminal investigation beyond the state's Parkland probe, Kaplan said, "To my knowledge, absolutely not."
He also denied having any knowledge that Israel was being removed from office by the governor. Kaplan also intimated that the sheriff was considering a defamation lawsuit against Loomer, who stood by her reporting.
Local 10 News could not substantiate Loomer's report, which appeared to be based on an unnamed source at BSO.
Loomer countered Kaplan by pointing out that Kaplan, in addition to representing the sheriff, also represents the gun shop that sold Parkland shooter Nicholas Cruz the AR-15 he used in the Feb. 14 mass shooting, indicating it was a conflict of interest.
After the show aired, Hunter Pollack, the brother of Parkland victim Meadow Pollack, tweeted about the attorney's dual roles, writing of the situation, "The @browardsheriff who begs for gun control, is being represented by the lawyer who represents the gun store owner that sold [Cruz] his gun. So much corruption, conflict of interest? #Fixit."
The sheriff himself said he is waiting for the release of the FDLE report before commenting on the investigation, but that hasn't stopped Israel from becoming a political lightning rod across the state.
Right now, one of the key questions is what role politics will play in the decision of Scott, who is running for U.S. Senate, on whether or not to suspend Israel from office.
During the Republican gubernatorial debate last week, both primary candidates, Ron DeSantis and Adam Putnam, said Israel should be removed from office.
"I would have removed that sheriff from Broward County," DeSantis said. "He failed his citizens and he should have been removed."
That line brought some of the loudest applause of the night from the partisan crowd. Putnam followed suit.
"Sheriff Israel is under investigation and Sheriff Israel needs to go," Putnam said.