‘That is a joke’: Ron DeSantis laughs off Charlie Crist investigation request
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Crist DeSantis
Other governors' policies have killed seniors, DeSantis said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis was again asked about U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist‘s call for an investigation against him, this time calling attacks like that a joke.

DeSantis made national headlines last week for suggesting the state could divert vaccines to more grateful counties as the state looks to vaccinate seniors. Crist, a Pinellas County Democrat, on Sunday called for a federal investigation into the vaccine rollout in Manatee County.

Crist also said earlier this month that he was considering a bid to retake the Governor’s Mansion, which he occupied from 2007 to 2011.

Like on Tuesday, when DeSantis suggested the investigation request was an ineffective political attack, the question drew a titter from the Governor before he gave his brief response.

“There’re some people who are more upset at me for vaccinating seniors than they are for other governors whose policies have killed seniors, and that is a joke,” he said.

DeSantis was speaking in Brooksville on Wednesday to announce another pop-up vaccination site.

Critics say the Governor has prioritized making vaccines available in Republican-heavy counties. Others have pointed out that the Governor quickly went all-in on Publix vaccination sites after donations from the grocery chain and pharmacy company rolled in.

But on Tuesday, the Governor said he doesn’t consider “who you vote for or any of that” when allocating doses. According to him, Broward County, a Democratic stronghold, has had the most senior community vaccination visits of any county.

The community pod in Manatee County controversially served only residents of two wealthy, largely White ZIP codes, providing about 3,000 vaccines for COVID-19 to residents in the area age 65 and older.

The site, set up through Lakewood Ranch developer Rex Jensen with help from Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, has generated uproar even in the heavily Republican county. That has worsened amid reports Baugh asked vaccines to be reserved for herself, Jensen and three others.

“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,” Crist wrote in his letter. “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.”

DeSantis defended the community pod program, saying the state is aggressively vaccinating seniors. The pods, he explained, are intended to target communities in counties that lag behind the rest of the state in vaccinating their senior populations. Pods skip around the state, spending a few days at a time vaccinating a few thousand seniors before moving on to another community.

Manatee County is one of several counties in Southwest Florida that lags behind the state.

Vaccinations offered through the pods come on top of county allocations. That helps reduce the strain on existing programs, like pharmacy vaccination sites, DeSantis said, rather than spreading the 3,000 vaccines across the board.

As of Tuesday morning, Florida has vaccinated more than 2 million people 65 years old and older. Nearly 4.5 million Floridians are in that age group.

The complaints over the Manatee County pod are the latest attacks against Florida’s vaccine rollout.

Some counties initially struggled with how to distribute vaccines. And the reliance on Publix, which diverts vaccines that would go to the county instead of directly to pharmacies, has also drawn criticism.

In an interview this month with CBS Miami, Crist said he wasn’t ruling out a gubernatorial bid in part because of DeSantis’ vaccine rollout.

“It’s as if there was no plan in place, and I don’t believe that there was,” he said.

Crist was elected Governor in 2006 as a Republican. After leaving the party and forgoing a reelection bid, he came back as a Democrat in 2014 and made an unsuccessful attempt to unseat his successor, then-Gov. Rick Scott.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


5 comments

  • Ron Ogden

    February 24, 2021 at 1:16 pm

    Only a Demi and his media allies would try to politicize an effort to protect the life of Florida citizens.

    • tjb

      February 25, 2021 at 8:47 am

      What has DeSantis done for the poorer communities regarding their access to the vaccine? I guess they are not Florida citizens?

      • Cj

        March 4, 2021 at 7:46 pm

        He’s doing 65 and older, first the 92% death age group vaccine to first. Color and money don’t matter we’re all; the same it’s sad you think that way. It’s why your stuck in mud. My poppa come here 1932 never made over 2$ a hour to a state RI with signs hung outside factories. “Italians don’t even apply for a job we won’t hire you’. He kissed. I kiss the ground of USA and as we loose her if these negative thinking ways continue the difference is the wealth will be sucked out of USA as many of us have already off shored before a plan of a 50% tax on what we paid tax on already in income and Capitol gains “wealth tax” or theft I call it. so if ever socialism is introduced the money stream will die fast and today’s welfare (today’s America poor) will seem like living like a king. Data who’s dying over 65 not money or race only age numbers are facts and never racist your thinking has scorned hate inside you let it go be free my friend. That who you protect first should not be the age group most effected it is crazy. You are mad A no risk 42 year old poor should be first is your thinking. Man take the blinders off make the commitments in one life time a man can see his kids and grand kids become millionaires here is how easy. At 21 open a IRA. Max is $100 a week. At 65 you got 1.7 million. Married couple can do that as Life time fast food employees. That $100 is a bill before head phones before Nikes $100 a week to IRA. I was forced to do this from 1932 my poppa was 30 we have accumulated wealth and my dad was a barber that saved and sold 17 shops at 43 which opened doors for me his door was a 370k loan I had to pay back. Zero interest but at 80 I’m in year 18 of giving him 2200 a week a car every 3 years and AMAX for dinner. Maybe no one told you how to do it or how easy it is. You don’t say this you bring your kid lift him up over bank counter at 5 and make him give teller $5 every week to create the habit to save and how easy it is, saving is a bill we must make rash decisions a must is a 2 income household or stay with mom and dad, work or what happens is life is like hell we all have one goal we never work for ME for now I work for one reason so my kids have more opportunities then I and when they need money I got it as a loan for them as if I have 2 or 200 million you can’t hand it over it must be earned or respect never comes. To hear you so negative I hope I gave you how to get out of that negative angry cycle. If you can leave this for your family name make sure the cycle ends it’s so easy with rules. I made the sacrifice my Immigrant Italian family came here when welfare never existed and would starve before ever allowing it as a option. Pride in Family. It’s all we got. God Bless my American brother

  • Lisa Foley

    February 24, 2021 at 4:17 pm

    I still don’t understand why DeSantis bumped individuals with no immune system and underlying health conditions such as mine, a heart condition , bronchial problems, MS, fibromyalgia, and the list goes on. I’m getting myself I’m more concerned about the teachers (as my daughter is a teacher) and even with all the precautionary methods that are taken with plexiglass shields facemask 6 feet social distancing in the classroom she has still had Covid three times since all this started been a year now. Now they are giving the vaccines to teachers however they have to be 50 or older. Doesn’t DeSantis know that 95% of our teachers are under the age of 50. Do a poll call the schools look at the county commissioners for assistance in this Area. Most of the teachers that are 50 and older are substitute teachers. They have their 25 to 30 years in to take retirement not these 35-year-olds and 40-year-olds and even younger than the 35-year-olds they are all busting their butts do you teach these kids whether it be by e-learning, zoom, in class. They’re doing whatever they have to do to keep their students up to par and their grades up. I for one know that my daughter even goes 10 Times the extra mile to make sure that these kids are getting the education that they need. As well as a lot of all the other teachers at her school. Somethings wrong with this picture don’t limit the age give all the teachers their vaccinations. Don’t select an age group give it to all of them as they’re all doing the same amount of work give or take a few who don’t really care because they don’t even want to be in the classroom because they know the risk that they are taking. Get your ducks in a row that unhealthy people need to be vaccinated the Frontline workers which teachers were and still are in my opinion are considered Frontline workers because they are dealing with kids from all different backgrounds, all different areas of the county, and all different social backgrounds so you have no clue what’s going on in the household weather masks are mandated when they go out in public or not. There needs to be a plan different from the one you’re running on your tail bye which absolutely makes no sense whatsoever.

    • Cj

      March 4, 2021 at 7:47 pm

      U are a liberal rage nut. And vaccinated already. Relax

Comments are closed.


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