Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida, is facing widespread condemnation and calls for a federal investigation “after the state set up invitation-only COVID-19 vaccination clinics in at least two upscale communities,” CNN reported on Tuesday.
DeSantis, a staunchly conservative stalwart supporter of former President Donald Trump, has been the subject of numerous avenues of criticism for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, particularly over allowing businesses such as bars and restaurants to operate at full capacity as well as his refusal to implement mask mandates.
Consequently, Florida now boasts the fourth-highest coronavirus death toll in the country as well as the third-highest number of documented cases -31,142 and 1,918,00 respectively – at the time of this publication.
Senior citizens aged 65 and over have been a priority demographic for vaccinations across the United States. In Florida, 76 percent of the three million residents that have been inoculated against COVID-19 are seniors.
DeSantis, however, has instead opted to cater to the conveniences of wealthy campaign contributors rather than heed the advice of public health experts.
“One prominent developer in two communities donated to DeSantis’ campaign — in amounts of $25,000 and $50,000 between 2018 and 2019 for a total of $125,000, according to campaign finance records. The exclusive vaccine clinics allowed about 6,000 people to jump ahead of tens of thousands of seniors on waitlists in Manatee and Charlotte counties, where the drives happened,” said CNN.
“I’m an active Republican, so I’m a fan of the governor, but I think that this could have been done better,” Harvey Goldstein, a GOP resident of Charlotte County, told CNN.
“The whole thing smacked to me of politics, favoritism, elitism and racism,” Ken Schultz, a Manatee County resident, told CNN.
CNN also noted that there has been a congressional request for an investigation into the governor’s sketchy decisions:
Democratic Representative Charlie Crist sent a letter to acting US Attorney General Monty Wilkinson on February 21st, asking the Department of Justice to investigate DeSantis and whether the vaccine drives benefit DeSantis’ political allies and donors.See Also
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,’ Crist wrote in the letter.
The congressman told CNN, ‘If you’re Hispanic or Black or (a) brown person, you’re not getting these pop-up vaccines that the governor is giving to people that are in more affluent, more White and more Republican parts of Florida.’
DeSantis and his enablers have denied any wrongdoing:
DeSantis declined CNN’s request for an on-camera interview for this story. Meredith Beatrice, the governor’s director of strategic initiatives, sent an email to CNN saying, in part, ‘The insinuation that politics play into vaccine distribution in Florida is baseless and ridiculous.’
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.