Gov. DeSantis’ office responds to Nikki Fried test leak allegation
Ron DeSantis and Nikki Fried.

DeSantis Fried
Has someone in the Governor's Office gone rogue?

Ed. note: This story has been updated to reflect the Governor’s Office response. 

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Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ office is pushing back against allegations that someone working for the administration leaked information about undistributed COVID-19 tests to one of DeSantis’ chief political rivals.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried contended during a radio hit Thursday that a DeSantis staffer leaked information about 1 million expired-but-unused rapid COVID-19 tests to her because he felt it was important to get the information out.

“It was a very high-profile individual in the DeSantis administration,” Fried said during a segment on WJCT’s First Coast Connect.

Asked why someone from the Governor’s Office divulged this information, Fried said the person wanted to ensure information was getting out to the public about the tests that expired while housed by the state last year, ahead of the omicron surge over the holidays.

“Because they were concerned. And it was somebody who wanted to make sure that information was going out. But obviously, I want to protect that individual because I know that this Governor would have him fired — them fired — almost instantaneously, and so I will protect that person’s anonymity. But this person was very clear about what was happening,” Fried said.

Fried offered no further clues about the identity of the alleged leaker.

When contacted for comment Thursday morning in the wake of Fried’s comments, DeSantis’ press secretary Christine Pushaw responded:

“After receiving an initial extension in September, the administration was actively working to extend the December expiration date of the Binax tests, while still distributing nearly 375,000 tests in December. This was common knowledge as it was well communicated with county health departments and county emergency management agencies by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Division of Emergency Management (DEM).

“As a result of these efforts, the manufacturer received a 3-month extension on the shelf-life expiration date for the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card. This extension allows for a shelf-life of 15 months, pushing the expiration date to March 2022. With the shelf-life extension granted, FDOH is continuing to push out test kits to county emergency management offices, county health departments, public safety agencies, hospitals and long-term care facilities. 

“It is unfortunate for Floridians that instead of doing the job she was elected to do, the Agriculture Commissioner shamelessly attempts to perpetuate an already debunked and discredited narrative.”

These tests have already expired twice, but the federal government gave them new life this week. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted a new three-month extension to the expiration date of the tests. They first expired in September, after the worst of the delta variant had passed in Florida.

With that extension, the tests are now again available for use in Florida after their December expiration date rendered them unusable for weeks.

Fried was the first to warn the tests had expired in state custody. She has contended the Governor’s handling of the test surplus disqualifies him from office.

“This Governor is not fit to serve,” Fried told reporters in West Palm Beach. “He should have known that this stockpile of tests could have been distributed all throughout the state. This is not only a (dereliction) of responsibility. But this is a complete failure of this Governor.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


18 comments

  • tom palmer

    January 13, 2022 at 3:26 pm

    It was obvious this was a leak because of the secrecy of the DeSantis administration in covering up the incompetence in dealing with the pandemic for political purposes.

  • Alex

    January 13, 2022 at 3:57 pm

    “If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases, actually,”
    – Trump, DeDumbass’s Daddy.

    Like father, like son.

  • Tom

    January 13, 2022 at 5:54 pm

    Really a meaningless story, has no legs.
    I called it that day as a sandbag story. Total leak, I said it was a set up to FP. This is just a continuing of a meaningless story.

    The Feds extended the expiration, which is the right thing to do and which Governor announced they had requested. It’s extended.

    Palmer and Alex are racists, who continue to perpetuate the usual hate. How you like it racists.

    Nikki Frauds perpetual sophomoric antics are meaningless. She plays to grade schoolers like Alex, Palmer and peter h. F P is clearly an advocate for N Fraud and opposed to America’s Governor.

    Peter and Joe in past 24 hrs came out against Gov. Peter’s asst. recently went to work for the new Tampa mayor. This petty partisanship is overwhelming. No one is fooled by the doctrinaire commitment.

    • Pablo

      January 13, 2022 at 6:54 pm

      Sounds like Tom is bothered by this reporting!

  • Pablo

    January 13, 2022 at 6:55 pm

    Sounds like Tom is bothered by this reporting!

    • Tom

      January 13, 2022 at 8:04 pm

      Pablo racist, along with Alex and Palmer. My outline speaks for itself.
      Nothing story, made up by fraud and carried by her press release FP.
      3 separate attacks upon Gov in 24 hrs.

      • Rick Thomas

        January 14, 2022 at 11:26 am

        True

  • Don'tbelieveeverythingyouread

    January 13, 2022 at 7:36 pm

    Sooooooo did anyone in the state that needed a test not get one?????

    That’s really the only question that matters

  • Jerry

    January 13, 2022 at 8:07 pm

    What is so critical about getting a test? I would understand if you are high risk. OK. I get it. But if you are young, healthy or otherwise low-risk, why get tested? If you are sick and get tested for COVID and positive, the doctor will tell you to stay home and take Tylenol. If you are sick and negative for COVID, the doctor will tell you to rest and take Tylenol. Either way the treatment is the same. Your body has to fight it off no matter what bug you got.

    If I get the sniffles, I’m not going to go wait hours in a line with a bunch of COVID positive people next to me. I would probably just have a cold and then end up catching COVID from the people in line. Save the tests for the high risk people.

    • Alex

      January 13, 2022 at 8:51 pm

      Yawn.

      • Impeach Biden

        January 14, 2022 at 8:29 am

        Have some morning coffee you sleepy head. Nikki Fried stands absolutely no chance in hell of defeating Ron DeSantis. She won’t even be the Democratic nominee to take on DeSantis. It will be the flip flopper Crist. By the way did you see the latest fund raising numbers by Fried vs DeSantis? She is a joke and we only have to look at her name on the gas pumps for less than one more year.

  • Dan

    January 14, 2022 at 10:54 am

    I hope Florida voters educate themselves of Nikki Fried prior to the next election. She doesn’t represent mainstream Floridians’ values.

    • Rick

      January 14, 2022 at 11:28 am

      She is a Fraud

  • slb

    January 14, 2022 at 11:50 am

    “In Florida, you have the freedom to die stupid.”
    Der Dwarf

  • Tom

    January 14, 2022 at 3:00 pm

    Slb Don’t doubt the “Der Dwarf” vote you ignant fool. Just saying.

  • Tom

    January 15, 2022 at 10:06 am

    Florida politics perpetuates Nikki Frauds fraud. Shameful.

  • Nikki

    January 16, 2022 at 6:14 am

    What a Non-story. The expiration date was extended, so the tests are still available for distribution. Fried is delusional. If anyone does the due diligence to research anything negative she says towards desantis; then you’d find that she is full of it and just seeking attention. How embarrassing for her.

  • Live Jobs In USA

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