Florida’s top Democrat calls for FBI investigation into governor’s vaccine distribution

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On Thursday, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried called for a federal investigation into Gov. Ron DeSantis’ vaccine distribution. The state’s top Democrat is asking the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate the Republican governor after the Miami Herald published an article on Wednesday that said a wealthy senior community in the Florida Keys made up of DeSantis donors received COVID-19 vaccines before much of the state. “If this isn’t public corruption, I don’t know what is,” Fried said at a news conference. “I will not stand by and let our vaccines be used as political gain and to go to be auctioned by the highest bidders while so many of our Floridians are suffering.”Fried’s accusations come after the governor has repeatedly touted his strategy of opening over 25 exclusive senior vaccine pods as recently as Thursday. “We’re going to continue to do that, we think that’s very effective,” said DeSantis. “I’m not worried about your income bracket. I’m worried about your age bracket because it’s the age, not the income that shows the risk.”Fried is the second state leader to call for a federal investigation following Congressman Charlie Crist’s push for a Department of Justice investigation last week. “Our governor, just as the vaccines were being rolled out, he had his best fundraising month since 2018: $2.7 million in February. This is not a coincidence,” said Fried. The governor weighed in on the recent accusations at a Thursday morning news conference. “The Miami Herald article was a train wreck,” he said. “That was not a site that we were involved in in the Keys. What that was was one of the south Florida hospital systems went and went to this community, vaccinated a bunch of seniors. I think that’s great. I want seniors to get shots. I think they did a good. We just weren’t involved with it in any shape or form.”Fried said she wants to see more transparency from DeSantis about his vaccine distribution plan. “The governor needs to start taking responsibility for things that are happening. If we had a plan in place from Day One, this would not be happening,” she said. “And if it is a hospital who is doing this, we still have to have a paper trail: How did it get to the hospitals? Who made the specific request?”As Fried calls for answers, critics question her motivations for possibly running for the governor’s seat. “This is something that has to be a priority for everybody. I just have an opportunity to be an elected official and taking this very seriously,” she said in response to a question about her potential political motivations. Thursday evening, the Governor’s office called the accusation a “manufactured narrative with political motivations.”They continued: “Leadership matters and because of Governor Ron DeSantis’ commitment to ensuring vaccine access to all seniors – regardless of background, income or zip code – millions of seniors have received the vaccine, resulting in over 50 percent of our state’s senior population being vaccinated, the highest in the nation.”Fried has not confirmed speculation that she plans to run against DeSantis next year, but Crist told WESH 2 News that he is considering it.

On Thursday, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried called for a federal investigation into Gov. Ron DeSantis’ vaccine distribution.

The state’s top Democrat is asking the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate the Republican governor after the Miami Herald published an article on Wednesday that said a wealthy senior community in the Florida Keys made up of DeSantis donors received COVID-19 vaccines before much of the state.

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“If this isn’t public corruption, I don’t know what is,” Fried said at a news conference. “I will not stand by and let our vaccines be used as political gain and to go to be auctioned by the highest bidders while so many of our Floridians are suffering.”

Fried’s accusations come after the governor has repeatedly touted his strategy of opening over 25 exclusive senior vaccine pods as recently as Thursday.

“We’re going to continue to do that, we think that’s very effective,” said DeSantis. “I’m not worried about your income bracket. I’m worried about your age bracket because it’s the age, not the income that shows the risk.”

Fried is the second state leader to call for a federal investigation following Congressman Charlie Crist’s push for a Department of Justice investigation last week.

“Our governor, just as the vaccines were being rolled out, he had his best fundraising month since 2018: $2.7 million in February. This is not a coincidence,” said Fried.

The governor weighed in on the recent accusations at a Thursday morning news conference.

“The Miami Herald article was a train wreck,” he said. “That was not a site that we were involved in in the Keys. What that was was one of the south Florida hospital systems went and went to this community, vaccinated a bunch of seniors. I think that’s great. I want seniors to get shots. I think they did a good. We just weren’t involved with it in any shape or form.”

Fried said she wants to see more transparency from DeSantis about his vaccine distribution plan.

“The governor needs to start taking responsibility for things that are happening. If we had a plan in place from Day One, this would not be happening,” she said. “And if it is a hospital who is doing this, we still have to have a paper trail: How did it get to the hospitals? Who made the specific request?”

As Fried calls for answers, critics question her motivations for possibly running for the governor’s seat.

“This is something that has to be a priority for everybody. I just have an opportunity to be an elected official and taking this very seriously,” she said in response to a question about her potential political motivations.

Thursday evening, the Governor’s office called the accusation a “manufactured narrative with political motivations.”

They continued: “Leadership matters and because of Governor Ron DeSantis’ commitment to ensuring vaccine access to all seniors – regardless of background, income or zip code – millions of seniors have received the vaccine, resulting in over 50 percent of our state’s senior population being vaccinated, the highest in the nation.”

Fried has not confirmed speculation that she plans to run against DeSantis next year, but Crist told WESH 2 News that he is considering it.

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