Agriculture Commissioner calling for vaccine investigation

Posted at 8:42 PM, Mar 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-01 20:42:24-05

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. —Florida’s Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried wants Congress to investigate Gov. Ron DeSantis's pop-up vaccination sites in wealthy communities. She says there's alleged political favoritism and potential corruption behind them.

Just last month a vaccination clinic popped up at King’s Gate, a gated community in Port Charlotte. Commissioner Fried says it’s putting wealthier residents at the front of the COVID-19 vaccine line.

“If you are not a donor, or closely connected to the governor, you are waiting in line - days, weeks, months to get your vaccine,” said Fried.

She says it’s time to hold Gov. Ron DeSantis accountable.

“These are people’s lives, and if he’s not taking this seriously, maybe Congress will,” she said.

In a letter she asks the U.S. Congressional Committee that’s overseeing vaccine rollouts to investigate the pop-up sites for alleged political favoritism and potential corruption.

She’s referring to the developer of King's Gate, who's contributed to the governor’s campaign. A spokesperson for the community shared the following statement:

We are happy and proud to aid the state and support the Governor’s mission to vaccinate seniors particularly in Charlotte County because the vaccination rate among the 65+ age group in that area is below the statewide average.

Fried says the purpose of her request is to get vaccines to everyone in Florida.

“Of course we all want to move the ball forward. But there’s a way to do this to make sure that equality - and making sure that we are not just taking care of those who have the financial means to get in the front of the line,” she said.

Data updated Monday morning by the Florida Department of Health shows white people make up 2 million of the 3 million total Floridians vaccinated so far. Black people account for only 177,000 vaccinations.

Congressman Charlie Crist is also requesting the department of justice takes a deeper dive into Governor DeSantis’s pop-up sites. He spoke with leaders of black churches who say their communities feel left out Monday.

Based on previous conversations she’s had with congressional leaders, Commissioner Fried says she’s optimistic they’ll be engaged with her request for an investigation.