U.S. Representative Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) sent a letter to Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson calling on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate concerns that Governor Ron DeSantis is establishing coronavirus vaccine distribution and administration sites to benefit political allies and donors, over the needs of higher-risk communities and existing county waitlists.
Congressman Crist’s letter comes following reports that the Governor is prioritizing the distribution of vaccines to Republican-leaning communities, serving his deep-pocketed donors, while turning his back on communities with higher COVID infection and death rates.
Crist is calling on the DOJ to investigate if Governor DeSantis’ actions violate federal law and warrant a full federal investigation.
Rep. Crist says, “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.”
“Time and time again, Governor DeSantis has proven he is not up to the task of leading our state out of this pandemic as he continues to play politics with the health and well-being of vulnerable Floridians,” said Rep. Crist. “So far, over 30,000 Floridians have died and at least 1.8 million more have gotten sick, with minority communities and seniors hit the hardest. Instead of prioritizing people most at risk, the Governor has chosen – during the worst pandemic in a century – to help out his friends and donors. That is why I’m calling on the Department of Justice to investigate.”
This comes after an announcement of a new vaccine site and press conference that Governor DeSantis held on February 17th at Lakewood Ranch in Manatee County.
Crist says,” 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,” said Crist.
When questioned by reporters about this, DeSantis said, “we wanted to find communities that had high levels of seniors living there and this obviously has a high concentration.”