Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to nix the nomination of Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo.
Ladapo remained under fire Wednesday after he refused to don a mask in Democratic Sen. Tina Polsky‘s office last week. The Boca Raton lawmaker was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in August.
“I hope you will do right by the people of Florida in withdrawing Dr. Ladapo from consideration,” Fried wrote in a letter to DeSantis. “If his nomination should move forward, I will urge the Senate to reject Dr. Ladapo’s confirmation.”
The incident aside, Fried — a Democratic gubernatorial contender — pointed to other areas of concern and characterized Ladapo as a promoter of “misinformation.” Like DeSantis, the Harvard University graduate is skeptical of the efficacy of masks and COVID-19 vaccines.
Ladapo arrived on-scene in September and made a big entrance, signing into effect a new and controversial health protocol. The policy allows parents to choose whether their children should quarantine — or stay in school — if they are asymptomatic after an exposure to a COVID-19 positive student.
Fried also blasted Ladapo over a recent fee change to medical marijuana grow licenses. The change, she says, is discriminatory.
“While any single one of these occurrences should have been disqualifying on their own, taken as a whole, they are even more damning and deserving of your immediate withdrawal of your nomination of Dr. Ladapo to serve as Florida Surgeon General,” Fried wrote. “Our state’s top public health official should be focused on the safety of all Floridians, not prioritizing personal political posturing and promoting discriminatory and dangerous policies.”
Despite Ladapo’s bumpy roll out, DeSantis appears unfazed by the now-national story and seems unlikely to cave to public pressure.
Senate President Wilton Simpson, however, issued a statement after the mask incident, describing the dust up as “disappointing” and “unprofessional.” Ladapo’s nomination awaits Senate confirmation.
Meanwhile, controversy is growing around Polsky’s story. Critics online point to pictures of Polsky, maskless, alongside Sen. Shevrin Jones and Loranne Ausley on the day of the incident.
In a statement, Ladapo acknowledged the incident and wished the Democratic Senator a full recovery. He also highlighted that he offered Polsky several alternatives to the indoor meeting, such as speaking outdoors. Ladapo and two aides left Polsky’s office at her request.
“Having a conversation with someone while wearing a mask is not something I find productive, especially when other options exist,” Ladapo wrote. “It is important to me to communicate clearly and effectively with people. I can’t do that when half of my face is covered.”
Fried, a vocal critic of DeSantis, is among a trio of Democratic candidates vying to oust the Republican Governor, including Congressman Charlie Crist and Sen. Annette Taddeo.
“It would not only be a disservice to the state, but detrimental to the well-being of our fellow Floridians to move this nomination forward,” Fried wrote.