Democratic Florida Rep. Charlie Crist in a letter to the Department of Justice outrageously called for an investigation into Governor Ron DeSantis over allegations that his vaccine distribution is ‘political’ in nature.
The letter was addressed to acting U.S. Attorney General Monty Wilkinson and was sent on Sunday. In it, Crist alleged that DeSantis is benefiting his political supporters by selecting vaccine administration sites in wealthy neighborhoods. This has been a long-standing unfounded accusation by Democrats in the Sunshine State.
“I write with concern about reports that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is establishing coronavirus vaccine distribution and administration sites to select locations to benefit political allies and donors, over the needs of higher-risk communities and existing county waitlists,” Crist said in his letter.
“In several cases, these 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,” Crist stated.
(Video Credit: 10 Tampa Bay)
Crist served as governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011. He began his political career as a Republican, switched to Independent, and finally came out as a Democrat in 2012. He was widely disdained in conservative circles and a number of scandals swarmed around him while governor. At one time, he eyed becoming the late Sen. John McCain’s presidential running mate. He is rumored to be seriously considering running against DeSantis in the next race for the governorship in Florida. Many believe his political aspirations for 2022 play into his attacks on DeSantis.
The former governor is pointing to an announcement made by DeSantis on Feb. 17 that stated 3,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine would be distributed in Lakewood Ranch in Manatee County. According to Crist, the development is owned by a Republican donor who has given $900,000 to DeSantis. He also insinuated that the area had a lower rate of virus infections than other areas.
Why is Governor DeSantis playing politics with vaccine distribution? His political allies & donors should not get to skip the line. Calling for full DOJ investigation. pic.twitter.com/OTjpkdD1o4
— Congressman Charlie Crist (@RepCharlieCrist) February 21, 2021
DeSantis responded at a press conference to criticism when the pop-up site opened by stating he was focusing on areas with a high concentration of seniors.
“There was no choice to pick certain ZIP codes,” DeSantis said. “We wanted to find communities that have high levels of seniors and this obviously has a high concentration. This is in addition to everything that’s provided to Manatee County. This is totally supplementary to that.”
“If Manatee County doesn’t like us doing that,” he continued, “we are totally fine with putting this in other counties.”
“If there’s going to be folks that are going to complain about getting more vaccines, you know, I’ll tell you what, I mean, I wouldn’t be complaining, I’d be thankful that we’re able to do it because, you know what, we didn’t need to do this at all,” DeSantis said last week.
Commissioner Vanessa Baugh made the decision to give the vaccines to that particular development, eschewing the lottery that is primarily used to decide what areas get the vaccine. She later apologized for doing so.
“I realize ya’ll don’t like the way it happened. I am sorry,” Baugh said at a recent meeting. “But it is 3,000 people who will be taken off the list in Manatee County that get the vaccine. If there is a problem with that, I am sorry. But I jumped on it and I’d do it again.”
Democrats have baselessly criticized DeSantis at every turn, accusing him of prioritizing wealthy donors and not enforcing coronavirus guidelines. Contrary to their accusations, Florida is reportedly doing very well in connection to vaccinations and the reduction of the spread of the virus.
“Defeating the COVID-19 pandemic must be our top priority. Given the enormous latitude Governors have over vaccine distribution, it would be unconscionable for political corruption to trump both fairness and the best medical guidance,” Crist pandered to the media. “These are literally life and death decisions. While I am anxious for every Floridian, in every community, to get the vaccine as soon as possible, it should be done based on fairness, not political connection.”
In February, DeSantis began delegating vaccines to specific groups. Those included home-bound survivors of the Holocaust, the Bay of Pigs, World War II, and the Korean War. The governor declared they should receive the vaccinations now because of their sacrifices, “morally, it’s the right thing to do.”
DeSantis has also reached out to churches, including African American congregations, synagogues, and mosques.
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