The current “pay-t0-play” narrative being pressed by Florida Democrats and media outlets alleging that Gov. Ron DeSantis picked Publix Supermarkets to administer the COVID-19 vaccine statewide because the grocery giant donated $100,000 to the governor’s political action committee, has been summarily debunked, again.
Neither Gov. DeSantis nor his allies were responsible for deflating the narrative, rather it was former Democratic State Representative and Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, Jared Moskowitz.
In response to a CBS expose on DeSantis’ vaccine rollout on its long-running Sunday evening show “60 Minutes,” Moskowitz set the record straight about DeSantis’ vaccine relationship with Publix Supermarket and even noted that it was his office that "recommended" the grocery store.
"@60Minutes I said this before and I’ll say it again.@Publix was recommended by@FLSERT and @HealthyFla as the other pharmacies were not ready to start. Period! Full Stop! No one from the Governor's office suggested Publix. It’s just absolute malarkey,” stated Moskowitz.
Moskowitz’s statement was the second of its kind.
On March 2, Moskowitz dismissed the notion that DeSantis or someone in his office “picked” Publix to assume the heavy lift of administering the vaccine.
"This idea why @Publix was picked has been utter nonsense,” stated Moskowitz. “We reached out to all pharmacies and they were the only one who at the time could execute on the mission. The federal government delayed the federal pharmacy program and we yet again stepped up first to serve more seniors”
But Moskowitz’s statements have fallen on the deaf ears of his fellow Democrats, particularly Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.
Shortly before the 60 Minutes segment on DeSantis aired, Commissioner Nikki Fried’s political campaign committee, Florida Consumers First, sent out a fundraising ask to her supports, alleging that the Republican Governors Association (RGA) had bought ad space to counter the questionable expose they were airing about DeSantis’ “corrupt and dangerous” vaccine "pay-to-play" rollout and agenda.
DeSantis’ ‘Seniors First’ COVID-19 vaccine rollout made it a “priority” for the state to vaccinate Floridian’s 65 and older, but Democrats like Fried and media outlets have been focusing on a “pay-to-play” agenda that CBS Correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi accused DeSantis of doing because the state partnered up with Publix Supermarkets to distribute the vaccine across the state.
Alfonsi confronted DeSantis at a press conference last week in Central Florida where the correspondent questioned DeSantis how is actions were “not pay-to-play?”
Here is the exchange:
Sharyn Alfonsi: Publix, as you know, donated $100,000 to your campaign. And then you rewarded them with the exclusive rights to distribute the vaccination in Palm Beach County.
Ron DeSantis: So, first of all, that-- what you're saying is wrong. That's--
Sharyn Alfonsi: How is that not pay to play?
Ron DeSantis: --that-- that's a fake narrative. I met with the county mayor. I met with the administrator. I met with all the folks in Palm Beach County and I said, "here's some of the options. We can do more drive-thru sites. We can give more to hospitals. We can do the Publix." And they said, "We think that would be the easiest thing for our residents."
Sharyn Alfonsi: The criticism is that it's pay-to-play, governor.
Ron DeSantis: And it's wrong. It's wrong. It's a fake narrative. I just disabused you of the narrative. And you don't care about the facts. Because, obviously, I laid it out for you in a way that is irrefutable.
Sharyn Alfonsi: Well, I-- I was just talk--
Ron DeSantis: And, so, it's clearly not.
Sharyn Alfonsi: Isn't there the nearest Publix --
Ron DeSantis: No, no, no. You're wrong.
Sharyn Alfonsi: --30 miles away.
Ron DeSantis: You're wrong. You're wrong. Yes, sir?
Sharyn Alfonsi: That's actually a fact.
Fried has been the most outspoken critic of DeSantis and has even reverted to attacking the popular governor and possible 2024 presidential candidate with her official taxpayer-funded office.
@60Minutes I said this before and I’ll say it again. @Publix was recommended by @FLSERT and @HealthyFla as the other pharmacies were not ready to start. Period! Full Stop! No one from the Governors office suggested Publix. It’s just absolute malarkey. https://t.co/obkqYcbrzt
— Jared MASKowitz 😷 (@JaredEMoskowitz) April 4, 2021