Nikki Fried — a Democrat and the Agriculture Commissioner for the state of Florida — is seeking a federal investigation into Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican and close Trump ally. Fried is after an investigation over DeSantis’s handling of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in Florida, where at least a handful of communities with ties to donations to DeSantis got special shipments of vaccines. The Boca Royale Golf & Country Club and Kings Gate Golf & Country Club both received special vaccination shipments — and they were both developed by DeSantis donor Patrick Neal. A similar situation unfolded in Lakewood Ranch, a wealthy and largely white community in Manatee County.
Fried is seeking an investigation into DeSantis from the COVID-19 committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, which is chaired by Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.). In a letter, Fried cited “alleged political favoritism” on DeSantis’s part in the vaccine distribution process, describing what she called “an inept distribution of vaccines at best, and corrupt political patronage at worst.” Recently, Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) — himself a former Florida governor — requested an investigation from the federal Justice Department into DeSantis over similar issues.
‘Florida’s vaccine distribution has been chaotic and without a plan. It’s been inequitable, with Black and Hispanic residents left behind. And it’s been corrupt, with the Governor’s donors and political allies getting special access. The message is clear. If Ron DeSantis likes you, or if you give his campaign money, you can cut in line ahead of seniors, teachers, and essential workers. It’s despicable and it needs to stop.’
Recently, DeSantis actually defended Florida’s lack of a particularly detailed public plan for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. In recent days, the state updated eligibility for receiving the vaccine, but before that development, Florida was the only state in the entire country that hadn’t publicly confirmed who’d be next on their list for vaccines, according to a report from the Tampa Bay Times. There’s adaptability, and then there’s lax ineptitude, and DeSantis clearly seems to fall into the latter category, no matter any of his self-important proclamations otherwise.
DeSantis spokeswoman Meredith Beatrice insisted that “the insinuation that politics play into vaccine distribution in Florida is baseless and ridiculous,” and yet, the issues remain. Troublingly enough, DeSantis is seen as a potential contender in the 2024 Republican presidential primary. In a recent Echelon Insights survey measuring support for various potential candidates, not including ex-President Trump, DeSantis tied Donald Trump Jr. for third place.
2024 National Republican Primary:
Trump Jr. 8%
Tim Scott 1%
Portnoy 0%@EchelonInsights 2/12-18
— Political Polls (@Politics_Polls) March 2, 2021