Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried seized an opportunity Thursday to cut loose on Gov. Ron DeSantis during the state’s first Cabinet meeting in roughly four months.
Fried, the state’s top Democrat, has earned herself a share of the national spotlight in recent months by casting stones at DeSantis in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fried built on that momentum Thursday, rattling off a list of grievances and frustrations ranging from “being left in the dark” to unacknowledged requests for the meeting.
“There is no reason in the midst of a global pandemic that has seen over 2,300 Floridians perish, over 51,000 sickened and over 1 million Floridians unemployed that this cabinet should not have met since February to consider state business,” Fried said.
Fried, who was the only Cabinet member physically in the room during the meeting, doubled down on the Cabinet’s lack of involvement since the onset of the pandemic and described it as being “left in the dark.”
“Each of us was independently elected by the people of this great state,” Fried said. “Each of us received more than 4 million votes and were put here to do a job. And for the most critical nearly 4 months of this pandemic, this cabinet has been left in the dark.”
Fried also voiced frustrations that her agenda requests, which included several officials and a discussion on Florida’s recent wildfires, went unaddressed.
Fried said she formally requested the Surgeon General appear to discuss COVID-19 data, and the Department of Revenue to discuss the state’s financial standing.
None, however, were present.
“These agenda requests are made in good faith and were not acknowledged, let alone fulfilled,” Fried said. “It’s a real shame for everyone who deserves trust.”
After Fried’s offensive, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis rushed to the Governor’s defense.
“Thank God we have Governor DeSantis and not Governor Cuomo,” Patronis said.
The opposition between Fried and DeSantis has intensified in recent months over the Governor’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 23, Fried appeared on MSNBC and criticized DeSantis over the state’s data and the firing of the state worker tasked to oversee the COVID-19 dashboard, Rebekah Jones.
“This is a pattern of deception we’ve seen from the Governor over and over again,” Fried said on the cable news channel.