DeSantis, governor of Florida, is accused of being preferential in distributing the Covid vaccine
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks wearing his face mask about the rise in coronavirus cases in the state during a press conference at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami on July 13, 2020.
Chandan Khanna | AFP | Getty Images
Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner on Monday called for a Congressional investigation into Governor Ron DeSantis for “alleged political preference” in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccine doses in his state.
Nikki Fried, the state’s Democratic Agriculture Commissioner, noted that at least three “pop-up” vaccination sites “have been organized in affluent communities linked to donors to the governor’s political campaigns”.
Long a staunch critic of DeSantis, Fried asked Congress in a letter sent Monday morning to Rep. James Clyburn, DS.C., Chair of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, and Rep. Steve Scalise, R, was sent to investigate -La., His senior Republican member.
“My office has received frequent complaints about the uneven distribution of vaccines,” Fried wrote in the letter CNBC received. She continued to accuse DeSantis of “distributing inappropriate vaccines at best and corrupting political patronage at worst.” The letter was first reported by Yahoo Finance.
The DeSantis office did not return CNBC’s request for comment on the allegations.
Fried quoted news reports about the three so-called pop-up vaccination sites. Primarily, DeSantis “allowed politically affiliated private developers to distribute the life-saving drug to residents of their upscale communities, circumventing systems put in place to ensure equitable access to vaccines,” the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.
Fried also cited other reports of pop-up vaccination sites in affluent areas that were reportedly linked to DeSantis donors.
“Given the many serious issues surrounding the governor’s impartiality and potential political corruption in the distribution of life-saving vaccines, I encourage your committee to launch a Congressional inquiry into Florida’s vaccine distribution process, including the obligation to produce testimonials, records and documents at its own discretion,” you wrote.
Fried also sent DeSantis a letter Monday morning asking him to suspend Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh from public office. Fried wrote that Baugh was being investigated for allegedly “putting himself, friends and family on a VIP vaccine list.” Baugh also picked her district, two affluent zip codes, to get additional doses of vaccine from the state, Fried wrote.
According to a statement by television broadcaster ABC7 WWSB, Baugh has apologized for what she called a “wrong judgment”. Baugh did not immediately return CNBC’s request for comment.
It’s the second time a Florida Democrat has called for a federal investigation into DeSantis’s treatment of the vaccine rollout. On February 21, Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., Sent a letter to the Justice Department asking them to investigate reports that DeSantis has set up vaccination centers “in select locations to help political allies and donors about the needs of communities at higher risk and existing waiting lists in the district. “
In particular, both Fried and Crist have been named in news reports as potential challengers to DeSantis.
“As reported by several news outlets, the governor is setting up pop-up vaccination stations to dispense doses to selected communities,” wrote Crist, another longtime DeSantis critic. “The zip codes in question have the highest income levels and the lowest COVID infection rates in the county.”