Florida congressman asks DOJ to investigate his own governor's COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan

Florida congressman asks DOJ to investigate his own governor's COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan
Lauren Floyd
Fort Lauderdale newspaper dubs Gov. Ron DeSantis 'Florida's mis-communicator in chief'

Rep. Charlie Crist of Florida, a politician who has successfully made the transition from Republican to Blue Dog Democrat, has been a vehement critic of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — and now, Crist is urging the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate DeSantis' plans for distributing COVID-19 vaccines.

In a letter to Acting U.S. Attorney General Monty Wilkinson dated February 21, Florida's former governor accused DeSantis of basing COVID-19 vaccine distribution on political cronyism rather than a concern for public health.

Crist wrote, "I write with concern about reports that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is establishing coronavirus vaccine distribution and administration sites in select locations to benefit political allies and donors over the needs of higher risk communities and existing county waitlists. As reported by multiple news outlets, the governor is setting up 'pop-up' vaccination sites to deliver doses to select communities."

Crist, who was a Republican when he served as governor of Florida, added, "In several cases, these sites seem to be targeted to wealthy communities with whom Gov. DeSantis has clear political connections, allowing some to skip to the front of the line in counties with existing waitlists. For example, on February 17, Gov. DeSantis made a surprise announcement that 3000 new vaccine doses would be made available to the wealthy enclave of Lakewood Ranch in Manatee County."

Reporting on Crist's letter to Wilkinson in Politics USA, founder Jason Easley applauds the former Republican turned Democrat.

"The DOJ can and should investigate DeSantis," Easley writes. "Rep. Crist has always been a dedicated public servant, and no one knows the governor's powers better than he does. So, if Charlie Crist is sounding the alarm, the Department of Justice must act to stop corrupt DeSantis from potentially killing the citizens of his state."

Crist, a native of Altoona, Pennsylvania who is now 64, was a Republican when served as Florida attorney general under Gov. Jeb Bush — and in 2007, he was elected governor of Florida. But by 2012, Crist had become a Democrat — and he believed the GOP had moved too far to the right, declaring, "I didn't leave the Republican Party; it left me."

As a Democrat, Crist — who leans conservative but isn't far-right — was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives via Florida's 13th Congressional District in 2016 and was reelected in 2020.

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