Florida’s agricultural commissioner has referred to as on the FBI to launch an investigation into what she branded as Gov. Ron DeSantis’ system of “red carpet vaccine distribution” for rich GOP donors.
“The fact pattern is simply just too clear to avoid: Give campaign contribution, big dollars, get special access to vaccines — ahead of seniors, ahead of our teachers, ahead of our farmworkers, and so many of our residents here in the state of Florida,” stated Commissioner Nikki Fried, the state’s highest-ranking elected Democrat, whose division additionally serves as Florida’s client watchdog.
“If this isn’t public corruption, I don’t know what is,” Fried stated at a press conference Thursday.
“I will not stand by and let our vaccines be used as political game, and to go … to the highest bidders while so many of our Floridians are suffering, like my grandmother, like my mother, like your parents and grandparents,” she advised reporters.
Fried’s name for a federal probe adopted a report the day past by the Miami Herald that almost every individual over the age of 65 — some 1,200 folks — in Ocean Reef Club, a rich Key Largo enclave of GOP contributors, acquired vaccines by the center of January. At the identical time folks in a lot of the remainder of the state have been desperately scrambling to acquire vaccines.
Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) additionally referred to as on the Justice Department after the Herald’s report back to launch an investigation.
In “several cases, these [vaccine] sites seem to be targeted to wealthy communities with whom Governor DeSantis has clear political connections, allowing some to skip to the front of the line in counties with existing waitlists,” he wrote.
The Herald linked different pop-up vaccine facilities to communities that forked out cash to DeSantis. Three Florida communities chosen by DeSantis for vaccine websites have been developed by actual property mogul Pat Neal, who contributed $125,000 to DeSantis in 2018 and 2019, the newspaper reported. The governor raised $2.7 million in marketing campaign donations final month alone, essentially the most of a single month since 2018, the Herald famous.
The newspaper described Ocean Reef as the house of “many wealthy donors” to the Florida Republican Party and GOP candidates, together with DeSantis. In reality, the newspaper famous, the one residents of Key Largo that donated to DeSantis stay in Ocean Reef.
One of the residents is former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who wrote a $250,000 verify to DeSantis’s marketing campaign in late February, in keeping with the Herald.
DeSantis has denied accusations of donor favoritism, insisting Thursday: “I’m not worried about your income bracket, I’m worried about your age bracket.”
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