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Despite DeSantis order, Palm Beach County won’t lower flags for Limbaugh

A county commissioner in the home of the late talk show host tweeted that he “hurt many people with his words and actions.”
Rush Limbaugh, speaking hear in Missouri in 2012, died of lung cancer Wednesday. He was memorialized as the "greatest of all time" on Fox's website, but critics saw him as a spreader of bigotry.
Rush Limbaugh, speaking hear in Missouri in 2012, died of lung cancer Wednesday. He was memorialized as the "greatest of all time" on Fox's website, but critics saw him as a spreader of bigotry. [ JULIE SMITH | AP ]
Published Feb. 24
Updated Feb. 24

TALLAHASSEE — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is moving ahead with plans to honor recently deceased conservative radio broadcaster Rush Limbaugh by lowering flags to half-staff despite protests from some public officials who don’t see Limbaugh as worthy of the honor.

DeSantis announced Tuesday that he was directing the U.S. and Florida flags to be flown at half-staff at the Palm Beach County Courthouse in West Palm Beach, the City Hall of Palm Beach and the State Capitol in Tallahassee from sunrise to sunset on Wednesday.

But late Tuesday, Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay posted a statement on Twitter declaring the county will not lower flags for Limbaugh on Wednesday.

“The lowering of flags should be a unifying gesture during solemn occasions, such as in remembrance of the young lives lost during the Parkland High School massacre or first-responder line of duty deaths,” McKinlay’s statement said. “Although Rush Limbaugh was a significant public figure, he was also an incredibly divisive one who hurt many people with his words and actions. I cannot and will not support the lowering of flags in his memory.”

A longtime resident of Palm Beach, Limbaugh, 70, died of lung cancer last Wednesday. DeSantis called Limbaugh a legend during a news conference two days later and indicated he would direct flags to be flown at half-staff to honor him.

But many Democrats objected. Nikki Fried, Florida’s agriculture commissioner and the only statewide Democratic officeholder, said Monday that she would not abide by the Republican governor’s orders. She said she would notify all state officers she oversees to disregard the governor’s order.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman posted on Twitter that his city would not honor hatred, racism, bigotry, homophobia or anything else Limbaugh has spewed over the years.

The governor’s order does not apply to any of the offices controlled by Fried or the city of St. Petersburg.

Town of Palm Beach officials did not immediately reply to emails asking if they planned to follow the order.

A year ago, President Donald Trump awarded Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, during his final State of the Union address. The day before, Limbaugh had announced that he was battling advanced lung cancer.

Limbaugh had for decades championed conservativism — often stridently at the expense of liberals and Democrats.

Flags are typically lowered to honor prominent government officials, as well as law enforcement officers and members of the military killed in the line of duty. DeSantis has said Limbaugh’s stature justified the honor.

- Bobby Caina Calvin