Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) has requested that the Department of Justice launch an investigation into Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
I write with concern about reports that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is establishing coronavirus vaccine distribution and administration sites in select locations to benefit political allies and donors over the needs of higher risk communities and existing county waitlists.
As reported by multiple news outlets, the Governor is setting up “pop-up” vaccination sites to deliver doses to select communities. 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. For example, on February 17th, Governor DeSantis made a surprise announcement that 3,000 new vaccine doses would be made available to the wealthy enclave of Lakewood Ranch in Manatee County. Lakewood Ranch’s parent company is owned by one of the largest Republican donors in the country, including contributing over $900,000 to the Governor. The ZIP codes in question have the highest income levels and lowest COVID infection rates in the county.
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. 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. As a former Governor and Attorney General, these issues of equity and fairness matter deeply to me. I request that the Department of Justice determine if the Governor’s blatantly political vaccine distribution decisions, which do not seem to be in the public’s best interest, violate federal law and merit a full federal investigation.
Governors have immense leeway in deciding where vaccine clinics are located. DeSantis has decided that he will place clinics in rich white Republican communities where his donors and allies live. It is a Trumpian craven and corrupt political act that literally picks who lives and dies in Florida based on how they voted.
The DOJ can and should investigate DeSantis. Rep. Crist has always been a dedicated public servant, and no one knows the governor’s powers better than he does, so if Charlie Crist is sounding the alarm, the Department of Justice must act to stop corrupt DeSantis from potentially killing the citizens of his state.
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Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association