Monday, February 22, 2021

Florida Rep. Charlie Crist calls for investigation of DeSantis funneling vaccines to the zip codes of wealthy donors

Posted By on Mon, Feb 22, 2021 at 12:08 PM

  • Photo courtesy Congressman Charlie Crist/Facebook
After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis funneled 3,000 coronavirus vaccines to two wealthy, donor-rich zip codes in Manatee County, Congressman Charlie Crist is now calling for an investigation.

A release from Crist’s office claims DeSantis prioritized COVID-19 vaccines for “Republican-leaning communities,” and established “coronavirus vaccine distribution and administration sites to benefit political allies and donors, over the needs of higher-risk communities and existing county waitlists.”

Last week, DeSantis announced the creation of a pop-up vaccination site in the 34202 and 34211 zip codes, where the median household incomes are 75 to 85 percent higher than the county average, and also are home to GOP and DeSantis megadonor Richard Uihlein, who gave $900,000 to the governor’s re-election effort in 2018 and 2019, according to the Florida Division of Elections.

DeSantis defended the pop-up site, saying “we wanted to find communities that had high levels of seniors living there and this obviously has a high concentration.”

However, since neighboring zip codes in Manatee County actually have a higher concentration of seniors, Crist is now calling for an investigation from the Department of Justice.
“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 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.”

Crist’s investigation comes after DeSantis was also criticized for selecting Lakeland-based grocery store chain Publix to distribute vaccines following a $100,000 donation the company made to DeSantis' reelection PAC.

This story first appeared in our sister newspaper Creative Loafing Tampa.

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