CNN's Erin Burnett looked at the other failed state last night: Florida, where 2024 presidential hopeful Gov. Ron DeSantis makes sure his top supporters get priority vaccine access.
"Tonight a county commissioner in southwest Florida admitting that she chose two of the richest and predominantly white zip codes in her county to receive vaccine doses," Burnett said.
"She said she was doing exactly what Republican Governor Ron DeSantis wanted after he brought a vaccine drive to the county. She also admitted she asked workers to put her on the list to be vaccinated. One source calling this a, quote, 'V.I.P.' list. Nikki Freed, Florida's agriculture commissioner, top Democrat in the state. Commissioner, this is pretty incredible. This commissioner, Vanessa Baugh, she is admitting all this, saying it chose two affluent zip codes to receive these vaccines, then ostensibly wanted to get on the line herself. She's admitting all this."
"Yeah, it's pretty outrageous, Erin. This is a public health crisis," Freed said.
She said there was "no excuse" for playing politics with vaccines, and called it "corruption at its worst."
"This is why people don't trust the system. And just to give you another statistic, right now in the state of Florida, 3.7% of the black population has been vaccinated, while 9.7 of the white population has been vaccinated at this point. So as the governor is rolling out the red carpet for his donors and political allies, he's pulling the rug out from the minorities from different minority communities and communities of color," Freed said.
"I mean, there is bipartisan outrage over what happened here, Commissioner. One Republican commissioner saying, quote, 'You're taking the whitest demographic, richest demographic in Manatee County and putting them ahead of everyone else. The optics are bad. Really bad. I'm really disappointed.'
"That's the sentiment you have. The point is it shouldn't matter if you're a Democrat or Republican. It's a problem. Here's how Governor DeSantis responded: 'If Manatee County doesn't like us doing this, then we are totally fine with putting this in counties that want it. And we're totally happy to do that. So anyone that's saying that, let us know. If you want us to send to Sarasota next time or Charlotte or Pasco or wherever, let us know, we're happy to do it.' What do you say to that?"
Freed said it was outrageous to use vaccines as a political tool.
"There is absolutely no reason why an elected official should be using their power to put their family and their friends and political allies before the public good. That's a public service is supposed to be about, serving the public, that's the public as a whole. We're looking into it and seeing what other measures we can take to hold the governor accountable and to make sure that this vaccine is being distributed equally across our entire state. This is just outrageous and borderline illegal."
"It's interesting, though, one final point to you. He doesn't seem to care Republicans are criticizing him. Why is he so emboldened?"
"This has been his M.O. in this administration," Freed said.
"It's his way or the highway. He doesn't care what people think about him. Doesn't care about the citizens of our state. This is how he operates and he just doesn't care. He's going to keep bullying forward until somebody stops him."