Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who promoted the now-debunked “pay-to-play” COVID Vaccine scheme CBS’ “60 Minutes” reported on about two weeks ago, is doubling down on the narrative that is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is “corrupt” and was involved in a “pay-to-play” scheme that benefitted the “white, wealthy people” who donated to his reelection campaign.
The Floridian caught up to Commissioner Fried at a Racetrac gas station in Hialeah, Florida where she updated reporters on the ongoing gas skimming fraud problem occurring throughout the state, but especially in South Florida.
After Fried addressed reporters regarding the official state business, Fried spoke to The Floridian about the 60 Minutes segment that was highly and unprofessionally edited, how DeSantis dealt with the vaccine rollout, and how he was involved in the “pay-to-play” scheme.
Fried doesn’t acknowledge the 60 Minutes assertion that the “pay-to-play” scheme occurred when DeSantis allowed Publix Supermarkets to help with the vaccinations at their pharmacies, rather pointed at the other allegations made against him where he is accused of setting up “pop-up” vaccination locations in wealthy, Republican-heavy voter communities.
Fried said, “And, whether or not, dealing with Publix, that’s, in my mind, that’s irrelevant.”
— Javier Manjarres (@JavManjarres) April 13, 2021
Floridian: Have you spoken to the Governor about this issue (COVID vaccines rollout)? Personally, I know you guys have a meeting every couple of weeks on Tuesday, and I know there’s a disconnect there if you will.
Fried: “Unfortunately, the Governor has refused to meet with me or anybody from my staff since the COVID outbreak started here in our state. We have sent numerous letters numerous times. We’ve been asking for assistance, especially with the farmworkers, trying to get vaccines to the farmworkers.. our health care system. I mean, we’ve gone over and over again the amount of times that we’ve tried to reach out to the Governor’s office to have an adult conversation about how we can work together, and he’s refused to do so. In the Cabinet meetings that he canceled, the majority of them in 2020, we’ve had one this year, another one is scheduled in a couple of weeks, but unfortunately, he sets the agenda. Any time that I’ve put any request in to have something COVID-related placed on the agenda, it’s been denied.”
Floridian: You had mentioned that you’ve been pushing back against his agenda since day one. You don’t agree with him on COVID. What’s your take on the whole 60 Minutes segment that you pushed out — but it turned out to be not so, let’s just say, it wasn’t so kosher if you will.
Fried: “It goes back to also what I’ve also been really critical of is, because he had no plan here in the state of Florida, it was corrupt, it was full of chaos, first, with our seniors having to stand in line for hours upon hours, websites crashing, phone lines crashing, and then he moved the vaccine locations from the hospitals and healthcare system to Publix, where we, it’s something that I have been fighting for since day 1 of my administration is food and security. I personally know how many people in our state don’t have access to Publix and would have to drive 45 minutes plus some people don’t have cars and would have to take buses. That wasn’t the right approach. And then he had the pop-up vaccines where there is pay-to-play. There is at least 3 separate times where there is a direct correlation with where pop-up locations of the vaccines were located and campaign contributions that were given to the Governor. And, whether or not, dealing with Publix, that’s, in my mind, that’s irrelevant. It goes back to the whole plan that he had none and allowed for so many of our vulnerable and underserved populations to be really put to the back of the line, and the people that were in front of the line were the white, wealthy people of our state and donors to Ron DeSantis and the Republican party.
Floridian: Lastly, what do you think of his response to the press conference he had with Moskowitz, with the charts, and the powerpoint, and how he went after 60 Minutes, kinda called them out for the lies he thought they purported.
Fried: “You know, when you’re explaining, you’re losing, and he’s lost the narrative here. People in the state of Florida know that this was chaos, that there’s corruption filled all throughout the vaccine rollout. We know of at least 3 instances, and I have no doubt that all of that will be uncovered.”