Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has furiously denied allegations that supermarket chain Publix only signed a contract to distribute COVID-19 vaccines in the state after donating $ 100,000 to its political action committee.
Sunday night episode of 60 minutes featured a sharp conversation between correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi and the Republican governor, who blamed the allegations as a ‘false story’.
The CBS program revealed that weeks before Publix secured the lucrative contract, allowing it to charge Medicare $ 40 per injection to administer the vaccine, the chain donated to DeSantis’ PAC, Friends of Ron DeSantis.
“Publix, as you know, donated $ 100,000 to your campaign,” Alfonsi told DeSantis about the program. ‘And then you awarded them the exclusive rights to distribute the vaccine in Palm Beach …’
“First of all, what you’re saying is wrong,” DeSantis retorted.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has furiously denied that supermarket chain Publix has contracted only to distribute COVID-19 vaccines in the state after donating to its PAC.
“How can that not pay for play?” 60-minute correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi grilled him up at a press conference. “The criticism here is pay for play, Governor.”
“How can that not pay for play?” Alfonsi asked.
“That’s a fake story,” DeSantis replied. ‘I met the county mayor, I met the clerk, I met all the people in Palm Beach County and I said,’ Here are some of the options: we can do more drive-thru locations, we can give more to hospitals , we can do the Publix. ‘And they said,’ We think that would be easiest for our residents. ‘
“The criticism here is that it’s pay for play, Governor,” Alfonsi told DeSantis.
“And it’s wrong, it’s wrong,” the governor fired back. ‘It’s a fake story. I just dropped you from the story. And you don’t care about the facts. Because I have clearly laid it out in front of you in a way that is undeniable. ‘
The 60 Minutes report investigated allegations of inequality in vaccine distribution in Palm Beach County, which is home to wealthy enclaves such as Palm Beach, but also has a high number of low-income and non-white residents.
The report claimed that the contract with Publix exacerbated those inequalities, as the chain’s locations are far from the county’s poorest neighborhoods.
It also pointed out that Julie Jenkins Fancelli, heiress to the Publix fortune, has in the past donated $ 55,000 to the Governor’s PAC, and that Fancelli’s brother-in-law, Hoyt R. Barnett, a retired Publix director, paid $ 55,000 in November. 25,000 has donated.
60 Minutes revealed that weeks before Publix secured the lucrative contract, the necklace was donated to DeSantis’ PAC, Friends of Ron DeSantis
A Publix Food & Pharmacy store where COVID-19 vaccinations were administered can be seen in Palm Beach County. The chain says any claim that donations influenced the vaccine contract is “ absolutely false and offensive ”
But critics accused 60 Minutes of falsely editing the correspondent exchange with DeSantis, with conservative writer AG Hamilton pointing out that the CBS program took “ minutes ” from the governor’s comments explaining what led to the deal with Publix .
‘First of all, the first pharmacies that had that [the vaccine] were CVS and Walgreens and they were on a long-term care mission, so they went to the long-term care facilities, ”DeSantis said in a portion of the March 22 press conference omitted by 60 Minues.
“They got the vaccine in mid-December, and they started going to long-term care facilities the third week of December to do LTCs,” DeSantis told Alfonsi.
‘So that was their mission, it was very important and we trusted them to do it. When we arrived in January, we wanted to expand the distribution points. ‘
“So yes, you had the counties, you had some drive-thru locations, you had hospitals doing a lot, but we wanted to get it more in the communities,” he continued.
“So we contacted other pharmacies: Publix, Walmart, of course CVS and Walgreens had to complete that mission and we said we would use you as soon as you are done with that,” DeSantis continued.
Critics accused 60 minutes of fraudulently editing the correspondent exchange with DeSantis, which detailed the origins of the Publix contract
DeSantis insisted that Publix was the “first to raise its hand” to say they were ready to distribute the vaccine.
They have rolled out the vaccine on a “trial basis” in three counties, which received “100 percent positive” feedback from seniors, he said.
DeSantis addressed concerns in Palm Beach County, saying that while the county initially “ struggled ” with distribution, it had now vaccinated nearly three-quarters of all seniors and that distribution would continue to expand.
In a statement 60 minutes after the report came out, a Publix spokesman overturned the claim that donations affected the vaccine contract.
“The irresponsible suggestion that there was a link between campaign contributions to Governor DeSantis and our willingness to work with other pharmacies to support the state’s efforts to distribute vaccines is absolutely false and insulting,” the company said.
“ We are proud of our pharmacy associates who have administered more than 1.5 million doses of vaccine to date and are joining other retailers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia to do our part in helping our communities get out of the pandemic. ‘