A quorum of three led Tuesday’s Sumter County commission meeting, the board’s first public forum since Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended two commissioners facing felony perjury charges.

Commissioner Oren Miller sat in the audience at the meeting, one week before he and fellow commissioner Gary Search are to be arraigned on charges they lied under oath in a criminal investigation.

If convicted, they face up to five years in prison.

Both have pled not guilty, and their arraignment in Marion County court is set for Jan. 18.

The men were arrested Dec.15 after investigators said that subpoenaed phone records prove both men lied to them about a series of 47 phone calls between them.

The men assumed office in January 2022, elected with the backing of the Property Owners Association of The Villages on a promise to eliminate a 2019 property tax increase.

However, their first year in office was dominated by a failed attempt to increase taxes on new business, an action voided by the pro-business Florida Legislature.

Gubernatorial suspensions and interim appointments are rare in Florida but not unprecedented.

Most notably, in 2002, then-Gov. Jeb Bush suspended and later selected the replacements for four Escambia County commissioners after a grand jury indicted them on charges ranging from bribery, racketeering and violations of the Government in the Sunshine Law.

Last year, DeSantis made more than 200 gubernatorial appointments, including several replacements for vacancies, deaths and misconduct at local levels.

DeSantis is expected to name an interim replacement for Monroe County Commissioner Eddie Martinez, who resigned last month after being arrested on a charge of domestic abuse. DeSantis last September named a replacement on the same board after a commissioner died.

DeSantis recently chose two appointees to the Broward County commission to replace board members running for Congress.

Last summer, DeSantis suspended Lake Wales City Commissioner Kristen Fitzgerald after she was arrested on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and interference with child custody. In that case, the four remaining commissioners selected a local church pastor to serve as interim commissioner.

In 2018, DeSantis suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel for dereliction of duty after the Parkland school shooting.

Curt Hills is a managing editor with the Daily Sun. He can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5287 or curt.hills@thevillagesmedia.com.