DeSantis' top donor invested millions in COVID treatment he's now promoting — while downplaying vaccines

DeSantis' top donor invested millions in COVID treatment he's now promoting — while downplaying vaccines
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. William Buchanan)
Gov. Ron DeSantis, commander in chief of the Florida National Guard, addresses the crowd during a change of command ceremony at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center on April 6. During the ceremony U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. James Eifert assumed command from U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Michael Calhoun, who retired after 36 years of service

Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has been touting a COVID-19 antibody treatment known as Regeneron while downplaying the importance of vaccines — and waging war against mask mandates.

On Wednesday, the Orlando Sentinel revealed a possible reason why.

As it turns out, DeSantis' No. 1 political donor has invested nearly $16 million in shares of Regeneron Pharmaceutical, the maker of the monoclonal antibody treatment.

The Sentinel reports that Ken Griffin, the CEO of Chicago-based hedge fund Citadel, has donated $10.75 million to a political committee that supports DeSantis. Meanwhile, Citadel has $15.9 million in shares of Regeneron Pharmaceutical, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

"DeSantis ramped up the call for Floridians to seek out monoclonal antibody treatments in August as coronavirus cases spiked," the Sentinel reports. "He's held news conferences at treatment sites and a Tampa hospital touting the effectiveness of the drug if people receive treatment soon after testing positive."

The newspaper reported that the relationship between DeSantis and Citadel "has generated a buzz on social media," with Democrats questioning it.

DeSantis has been flying the state in recent days promoting Regeneron, setting up monoclonal antibody treatment sites in three counties — including Orlando's Camping World Stadium.

DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw denied that Griffin's support has influenced DeSantis' decision to promote Regeron while fighting vaccine mandates, and threatening to punish school districts that impose mask mandates.

"Claiming that there is somehow 'corruption' by promoting the baseless political narrative that Governor DeSantis supports Regeneron over COVID vaccines (completely false, but that is another topic) is not even logically consistent when you examine the SEC filing," Pushaw told the Sentinel in an email. "Citadel holds far more shares of Pfizer and Moderna than Regeneron."

A Regeneron treatment costs the federal government more than $1,000, while a vaccine costs about $25.

"Griffin, a billionaire, has donated tens of millions of dollars to other conservative candidates and political committees across the country. He was raised in Florida and is building an oceanfront mansion near Trump's Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago resort," the Sentinel reported.

Read the full story here.

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