On Thursday, the Miami Herald reported that two Florida officials are asking the FBI to investigate whether Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is running a "pay to play" scheme trading COVID-19 vaccine doses to communities in wealthy ZIP codes in exchange for campaign contributions.
"Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Senate Democratic Leader Gary Farmer issued separate statements urging the U.S. Attorney and the FBI to look into whether the $3.9 million in contributions made to the governor's political committee since December alone were connected to favorable treatment for vaccine distribution," reported Mary Ellen Klas and David Goodhue.
The request comes after reports that the DeSantis administration sent a shipment of doses to the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, a wealthy, gated community in the Florida Keys — a decision that raised eyebrows, given that every single donor to DeSantis' campaign in Key Largo, including one who contributed $250,000, lives in that specific community.
DeSantis and local officials deny that the Ocean Reef Club shipment was based in any way on politics, or that the governor himself was involved.
Under DeSantis' policy, as in every state, there are strict criteria who can and cannot be vaccinated based on factors like age. But he has faced questions for weeks about the specific communities receiving shipments. At a press conference in Manatee County, unveiling a vaccination site where only the counties wealthiest ZIP code residents would be eligible, DeSantis even threatened to move vaccines to counties that don't criticize him.