DeSantis wants voters’ signatures to match

Governor DeSantis’s signature has evolved over time. Yet, he wants voter’s signatures to always be accurately matching.
According to handwriting experts,  no two signatures from one person are the same. It’s why Florida election officials for years have used all the signatures at their disposal. Sometimes, more than a dozen when they authenticate a voter’s signature on a mail-in ballot.

Governor DeSantis wants to rein in that long-standing practice. Vote-by-mail signatures “must match the most recent signature on file” with the state Department of Elections, DeSantis declared in February. A bill moving through the Florida Senate would make that the law.

Some election officials say limiting signature samples could make it harder to authenticate the identities of voters who choose to cast their ballot by mail.

Signatures change over time, they say, and are often affected by the choice of pen, the writing surface, fatigue, or a person’s health. A new requirement for a one-to-one match could lead to more rejected ballots.

Experts and election officials who reviewed Governor Ron DeSantis’ signature history for the Times said some of the modifications in his penmanship could have posed trouble for election workers, especially if constrained to one point of comparison.

In a handful of instances, it is possible the ballot could have been rejected, they said.

“It shows why it is better to have multiple signatures for review than to have one,” said Tom Vastrick, a forensic document examiner based in Apopka.

The proposal is part of a package of voting legislation that Florida Republicans are pushing this session to the state’s election system, even though DeSantis praised Florida for how it conducted its 2020 election. “The way Florida did it, I think inspires confidence, I think that’s how elections should be run,” DeSantis said at the time.

Daniel Smith, a political scientist at the University of Florida, studies the application of voter signature matching laws. His research has shown counties often apply signature matching rules unevenly, and students and minorities are more likely to have their ballot rejected because of a mismatch.

“It’s really silly you would want to limit the signature to compare,” Smith said. DeSantis’ “own signatures show the reason for that.”

Instead of limiting signatures or relying on a digital facsimile, it would be more helpful to have people sign their name 10 times in ink when they register to vote, Vastrick said.

In response to these concerns, Rep. Blaise Ingoglia last week tweaked his voting bill to allow election officials to use a signature on file from the past four years. Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, said the limitation is needed “to make sure there wasn’t signature shopping where you would have 20 different signature iterations going back 20 years.”

State Rep. Fentrice Driskell, a Tampa Democrat, said the amended bill is “better than what we had before” but she added: “It’s trying to fix something that wasn’t broken.”

“Our poll workers have been trained to use multiple signatures,” she said, “and it seems wholly inefficient to be changing the procedures for them.”

According to Governor Ron DeSantis,  these measures are needed for election security. He has said less about why he wants to change the signature matching rules.

“If there need to be ways to bolster the signature verification, then we need to do that as well,” he said in February in West Palm Beach.

Smith said limiting signatures could have the opposite effect on election security. Fewer signatures mean less evidence to verify a positive match.

“If you’re interested in election integrity, wouldn’t you want more signatures to validate the one that is coming in?” Smith said. “Unless that is really not your intention.”

YouTube removes DeSantis’ video


According to a YouTube spokeswoman, Elena Hernandez, the video was removed because the content violated its standards about “COVID-19 medical misinformation. Governor Ron DeSantis’s office blasted the decision. The spokeswoman said that the YouTube policies apply to everyone.

The Governor’s video was shot at the state Capitol in Tallahassee. It got removed on Wednesday due to a violation of social media platform standards.

The removal of the video was flagged by the American Institute for Economic Research.

“YouTube has clear policies around Covid-19 medical misinformation to support the health and safety of our users,” Ella Hernandez said in a statement.

The spokeswoman also said, “We removed AIER’s video because it included content that contradicts the consensus of local and global health authorities regarding the efficacy of masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19.”

Moreover, Ella Hernandez also said YouTube only allows videos “that otherwise violate our policies to remain on the platform if they contain sufficient educational, documentary, scientific or artistic context.”

“Our policies apply to everyone and focus on content regardless of the speaker or channel,” Hernandez said.

Governor Ron DeSantis’s press secretary Cody McCloud called YouTube’s move “another blatant example of Big Tech attempting to silence those who disagree with their woke corporate agenda.”

“YouTube claimed they removed the video because ‘it contradicts the consensus of local and global health authorities,’ yet this roundtable was led by world-renowned doctors and epidemiologists from Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, all of whom are eminently qualified to speak on the global health crisis,” McCloud said.

“Good public health policy should include a variety of scientific and technical expertise, and YouTube’s decision to remove this video suppresses productive dialogue of these complex issues.”

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University, one of the scientists on the panel, said this “was a policy forum, in which it is appropriate to consider both the benefits and costs of a policy (child masking) when making judgments and recommendations.”

“YouTube’s censorship of our discussion is contrary to American democratic norms of free expression,” the professor said in an email. “It is also a violation of basic standards of scientific conduct, which stand in opposition to unreasoned silencing of contrary views and require the free exchange of ideas.”

Prior, AIER article chief Jeffrey A. Exhaust insisted in an article Wednesday on the research organization’s site that YouTube blue-penciled DeSantis and the researchers and called it “the most recent assault on general wellbeing data.”

Numerous general wellbeing specialists, in any case, have denounced Bhattacharya and different researchers on the board with DeSantis — previous Trump White House Covid consultant Dr. Scott Atlas; disease transmission specialist Sunetra Gupta; and Dr. Martin Kulldorff — of spreading general wellbeing deception. NBC News has likewise connected with Tucker, Atlas, Gupta and Kulldorff for input.

NBC News didn’t see the video before it was taken out. Exhaust initially detailed its evacuation.

Be that as it may, in view of a record given by YouTube, it seems the members crossed paths with the stage’s guidelines when DeSantis found out if youngsters in school ought to be wearing veils and Kulldorff answered,“Uh, children should not wear face masks, no. They don’t need it for their own protection, and they don’t need it for protecting other people either.”

“There’s no scientific rationale or logic to have children wear masks in school,” Atlas said six minutes later.

The World Health Organization recommendations are somewhat looser for more youthful youngsters, however kids over the age of 12 “should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults.”

Every one of the researchers in the video however Atlas is signatories to The Great Barrington Declaration, which was sponsored by AIER and which went against lockdowns and contended that society would fabricate crowd insusceptibility against Covid-19 assuming everything except individuals over age 70 “continue life as ordinary.”

Chart book, who is a radiologist, not a disease transmission specialist, was especially critical of cover wearing to forestall the spread of Covid-19.

Large numbers of the world’s driving researchers reviled The Great Barrington Declaration as a “hazardous fallacy unsupported by logical proof.” And later, at that point President Donald Trump’s CDC boss, Dr. Robert Redfield, was overhead by NBC saying of Atlas, “All that he says is bogus.”

The Trump administration embraced that intuition, as did DeSantis, who was censured by general wellbeing specialists for being slow to close the state down and for returning the state too early. The vast majority of the Covid-19 passings and cases were recorded in Florida after DeSantis visited Trump in the White House last April and rashly, as it ended up, declared victory over the infection.

As of Friday, Florida had revealed in excess of 2 million Covid-19 diseases and almost 35,000 passings since the beginning of the pandemic, agreeing to the most recent NBC News numbers. It likewise has the 10th most elevated Covid-19 contamination rate in the nation, agreeing to Becker’s Hospital Review.

DeSantis in the AIER record concurred with his specialists that lockdowns were inadequate at halting the pandemic, saying “there’s really not a lot of positive to balance it out when you compare the severe lockdown states to other states which weren’t locked down or other countries like Sweden, which had adopted a different approach.”

Sweden initially went against lockdowns but started forcing limitations around a half year prior after the quantity of Covid-19 cases and passings soared, especially in correlation with its Scandinavian neighbors.

Anti-riot bill hit Senate floor


As political tension is building, a GOP-drove Senate board on Friday cast a ballot to send a Governor Ron DeSantis-sponsored ‘anti riot’ bill to the full Senate floor subsequent to dismissing each Democratic endeavor to limit the extent of the enactment.

Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee were unable to stop the bill, but they did manage to get support for a study that will look at the racial impact of the proposed law.

The bill (HB 1) would enhance penalties for a host of crimes committed during protests that turn violent, and opponents have argued its broad definition could lead to racial disparity if the bill ultimately becomes law.

“The people across the state of Florida are worried about the chilling effect of this bill,” said Senator Darryl Rouson, R-St. Petersburg.

“This is going to lead to a misapplication of the law, and we know Black and brown people will suffer disproportionately because we have seen it.”

In addition to that Senator Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach, tried to ease those concerns by proposing language that would have required the state to collect data and study the racial and ethnic impact of the proposed law.

“I agree with you wholeheartedly that we should look at this,” Burgess told Powell.

“That’s my honest and good faith commitment because where there is disparity, where this is happening, it should be studied and it should be stopped.”

Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta said Simpson will be directing the research arm of the Florida Legislature to conduct the study, but specifics have yet to be determined.

The battle about DeSantis’ main concern has driven quite a bit of the behind-the-scenes jockeying during the primary portion of the administrative meeting. With three weeks left in meeting, the strains were currently in full view during an eight-hour meeting before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman Jason Pizzo, a Miami Democrat who refused to hear the bill in his committee, told Burgess he believes the bill is nothing “more than perhaps a bullet point in a 2022 or 2024 campaign mailer for somebody else.”

Pizzo, a former prosecutor, argued the bill is a problem because it is overly broad and as currently written would make arrests and convictions subjective. Burgess, however, says the legislative intent of the bill should stand up in court.

“You have much greater faith in legislative intent versus textualism,” Pizzo said. “I have a greater concern that the courts will see the text of the bill and not what we discussed here today.”

“I don’t fault you for not knowing the nuances of criminal law and their application,” Pizzo said. “But I do fault the premise that you don’t understand and appreciate what this means in the application for Black and brown teenagers.”

Sen. Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater, appeared to be walking a fine line between a yes or a no while debating the bill. He shared personal anecdotes about his youth and witnessing a “racist society” first hand.

“I grew up, and I have vivid childhood memories of water fountains, restrooms, cafe entrances, buses, schools that were not integrated, not one time,” Hooper said. “I grew up in a racist society. I admit that and I don’t like it. I heard the n-word 5 million times in my youth.”

Hooper voted yes on the bill in the end, because he said he believes “something needs to be done” about the violence seen during the Jan. 6 assault of the U.S. Capitol.

“I think something needs to be done,” Hooper said. “I don’t know where the balance is, I do not.”

60 minute slammed by Governor Ron DeSantis

60 minute

60 minutes story criticized Governor Ron DeSantis as it covered a story of the Governor’s partnership with Publix grocery. On Monday, Governor DeSantis appeared on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson’s 8 p.m show. DeSantis was given a forum to push back against pay-to-play charges levied Sunday, and the Governor delivered, saying  the segment was a “smear,” motivated by “malicious intent,” with the intent of driving a “conspiracy theory.”

Sharyn Alfonsi, said that there may be a possible link between the donation and the state’s partnership with Publix stores for vaccine distribution. If found true, this would be a serious foul play concern.

Governor Ron DeSantis claimed that “obviously, they selectively edited the background. They tried to act like there was a conspiracy with Publix, ignoring the fact that other pharmacies were involved before Publix, doing the long-term care facilities, ignoring the fact that I met with the county mayor, a Democrat who said that what 60 Minutes has done was bunk.”

He went ahead and said that “They didn’t tell you that! It didn’t fit the narrative. They don’t believe in facts. It was a political narrative. It was done with malicious intent and a reckless disregard for the truth.”

According to Governor Ron DeSantis avoided talking to “key Democrats” such as the aforementioned county mayor Dave Kerner and Division of Emergency Management head Jared Moskowitz because they would “blow up their narrative.”

Moreover, Moskowitz took the matter to Twitter on Sunday night and tweeted directly at 60 minutes and wrote, “I said this before and I’ll say it again. [Publix] was recommended by [Florida Division of Emergency Management] and [Florida Department of Public Health]. Period! Full stop!”

“No one from the Governor’s office suggested Publix,” Moskowitz added. “It’s just absolute malarkey.”

On Monday, Kerner offered a similar statement: “I watched the 60 Minutes segment on Palm Beach County last night and feel compelled to issue this statement,” Kerner said.

A statement was also issued by Publix to criticize the whole situation but they did not mention 60 minutes by name. On Monday they said, “The irresponsible suggestion that there was a connection between campaign contributions made to Governor DeSantis and our willingness to join other pharmacies in support of the state’s vaccine distribution efforts is absolutely false and offensive”.
Governor Ron DeSantis complained that “They put their head in the sand and pretended those facts didn’t exist,”.

“Obviously they were in Florida for three months, 60 Minutes, trying to dredge up any dirt they could use to smear me, and the best they could come up with was a baseless conspiracy theory that’s easily debunked, not just by me, which they had to edit out, but by two very prominent Democrats in the state of Florida.”

A spokesperson for “60 Minutes” defended the story the news magazine aired.

In a brief statement, the spokesperson focused specifically on criticism “60 Minutes” received for not airing a portion of an encounter Governor DeSantis had with Alfonsi at a press conference in which he pointed out to her that CVS and Walgreens — under a federal program — were the first pharmacies in the state to distribute vaccines.

“As we always do for clarity, 60 Minutes used the portion of the Governor’s over 2-minute response that directly addressed the question from the correspondent,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also said that the program asked for an actual interview with DeSantis twice, but that he declined.

For Governor DeSantis, who has had a running critique of the corporate media, the excesses and the missed opportunities of the 60 Minutes piece are just grist for the mill. For a conservative media thirsty for an avatar in a post-Trump world, Florida’s governor going toe to toe with a centerpiece of the media establishment will continue to dominate coverage for days to come.

Executive order – Businesses prohibited from asking for customers COVID 19 details


Executive order issued on Friday by Governor Ron DeSantis disallows businesses from requiring customers to provide any documentation that they’ve gotten a COVID-19 vaccine to gain access or service. Businesses that do this will not be able to get state grants or contracts, he said.

Governor DeSantis has recently dismissed the notion of so-called “vaccine passports” as conditions for travel or other activities.

“People have certain freedoms and individual liberties to make decisions for themselves,” Governor Ron DeSantis said during a news conference Monday when he announced that he would soon issue an executive order about vaccine passports.

He also said that: “I also wonder, it’s like, okay, you’re going to do this and then what? Give all this information to some big corporation? You want the fox to guard the hen house? I mean, Give me a break.”

The governor’s executive order says that no Florida government is permitted to issue vaccine passports or similar documentation “for the purpose of certifying an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination status to a third party.” It also says that businesses that do require patrons to provide evidence of vaccination or post-transmission recovery from the virus would not be eligible for grants or contracts funded through state revenue.

The request says that requiring vaccine passports “for taking part in everyday life — such as attending a sporting event, patronizing a restaurant, or going to a movie theater — would create two classes of citizens based on vaccination.” DeSantis said the order is needed to “protect the fundamental rights and privacies of Floridians and the free flow of commerce within the state.”

The idea of requiring vaccines is not exactly new; certain inoculation records are needed for school and for certain positions, for example. Yet, the possibility of such international IDs for the Covid has brought up lawful and moral issues — especially from traditionalist policymakers.

Governor DeSantis said on Twitter that he would push for the Legislature to enshrine his vaccine passport policy into Florida law.

No bills enacting restrictions on vaccine passports had been filed as of Friday in either the Florida House or the Florida Senate. But on Thursday, Senate President Wilton Simpson said his chamber would look into the issue. The 60-day legislative session ends April 30.

Some Florida associations have effectively organized endeavors to have supporters show they’ve been inoculated. The South Beach Food and Wine Festival, for example, is requiring confirmation of antibody or proof of a negative Covid test three days prior to going to any occasion.

Some public health experts were concerned that vaccine passports would impede those who have had difficulties in accessing the vaccines.

”We do need to be extremely careful with regard to equity when we’re thinking about vaccination as a rite of passage to enter economic, social, and other public interactions,” said Zinzi Bailey, a social epidemiologist and board member of the Florida Health Justice Project

She noted that many people still have not been vaccinated and that certain groups, such as Black and Hispanic Floridians, are still less likely to have gotten a shot.

Bailey said she doesn’t understand why the governor’s executive order talks about individual freedom but restricts business owners from setting policies to make their employees and customers safer.

A spokeswoman for the Florida Chamber of Commerce declined to comment on the executive order, saying everyone in the office was out for Good Friday.

The governor’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Judy Lisi, president and CEO of the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, is hopeful some Broadway shows could return to Tampa as early as this fall. A passport could help fill theaters faster, she said, especially if professional actors’ unions decide they won’t let members perform in venues without vaccine requirements.

”Our business is going to depend on a high level of vaccine,” she said. “Our audiences, we want to attract them and get them safely inside these theaters, and we need to get to 100 percent capacity.”

She called DeSantis’ stance on passports “unfortunate.”

”I just don’t think he [DeSantis] understands our business or the sports business,” she said. “We’re about people in seats sitting next to each other. So the vaccine passport could be critical for these businesses rebuilding and restarting successfully.”

COVID 19 vaccine eligibility lowered to 50 years – relief for many

On Friday, Governor DeSantis announced that he is planning to lower the COVID-19 eligibility to the age of 50 from Monday. The governor visions the J&J vaccine shipment for the coming weeks. That followed the state lowering the eligibility age to 60 this week, down from 65.

“We think we’ve done pretty well this week with the 60 to 64,” DeSantis told reporters. “But, quite frankly, we think that even on current vaccine allotments that opening it up will be good.”

This move marks a development in Governor DeSantis’s “Seniors First” vaccine strategy. The strategy, which originally conflicted with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, prioritizes the elderly.

“I think we’ve had a huge response from seniors,” Governor DeSantis said, calling it a relief for many.

Florida is approaching a 70% COVID 19 vaccination rate among seniors, but the demand is slowing down. And he expects fewer members from younger age groups to want a vaccine. Already, the age to 60 to 64 has shown “relatively modest” compared to seniors, perhaps because those who really wanted a show because of comorbidities already had access.

Appointments were taking several hours to fill rather than the usual minutes.

“There’s just a certain critical mass of seniors that really want it,” DeSantis said.

The Governor had mused about dropping the age to 55 in prior public appearances. But dropping the age to 50 would open it up to a larger segment of the state, which DeSantis and Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz said the state has the capacity to handle.

The state is expecting to receive 420,000 doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID 19 vaccine formula next week. However, zero Johnson & Johnson COVID 19 vaccine shipments are slated for the following week. Still, the Governor said that could change.

“I think what’s happening is this is a dynamic situation,” Governor DeSantis said. “I think it’s very possible that we do get some J&J.” Unlike Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines, except when the winter storm across the South delayed a Moderna shipment a week, J&J shipments haven’t been arriving on a weekly basis

DeSantis and Moskowitz also highlighted the state’s effort to vaccinate underserved communities, including through a door-to-door initiative in minority communities. Officials will have knocked on 35,000 doors by the end of the day to signed people up for appointments. In some communities, officials are even offering vaccines directly at the door.

That program has led to about a 10% success rate, Moskowitz said. And likely wouldn’t move the needle broadly, but would help reach low-income communities.

“There are people obviously in the minority community that have transportation issues. They might not have a car or they share a car,” Moskowitz said. “There are education issues, so when we come to the door, we educate them about the program. There are historical hesitancy issues.”

Florida University: Maximo and Gonzalez reappointed

Maximo Alvarez and Jorge Gonzalez have been reappointed by Governor Ron DeSantis to the Florida University’s Board of Trustees. Maximo is the Sunshine Gasoline Distributors’ president while Gonzalez serves as president of St Joe Company.
Maximo is also the founder and president of Sunshine Gasoline Distributors. Maximo was born in Havana, Cuba, and came to the United States at 13 as part of Operation Pedro Pan. He volunteers with the Florida Petroleum Marketers Association, Hope for Vision, the Transplant Foundation, The First Tee, the Miami Children’s Hospital, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.Alvarez attended Belmont Abbey College before earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from FSU. He was first appointed to the board in 2015 to replace Allan G. Bense of Panama City, who was appointed in 2011 and served as board chairman from June 2012 to June 2015. Alvarez’s initial term ended on January 6 of this year.

On the other hand, Gonzalez, who is from Miramar Beach, serves as the president and chief executive officer of land development organization The St. Joe Company, which is Florida’s second-largest private landowner.He has been involved with Enterprise Florida, the Bay Economic Development Alliance, Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center, Northwest Florida Manufacturer’s Council, Florida Chamber of Commerce, and the Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce. Gonzalez earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Florida State University. He was appointed by Governor Rick Scott in 2018 to fill a vacant seat for a term beginning January 12, 2018, and ending January 6, 2021.

Maximo and Jorge will continue to serve on the 13-member governing board for the university following confirmation by the Senate.

The university’s Board of Trustees is composed of six members appointed by the Governor, five members appointed by the Florida Board of Governors, the Chair of the Faculty Senate, and the Student Body President.

Back in November, DeSantis made two new appointments to the FSU Board of Trustees, including Forge Capital Partners co-founder Peter Collins and former Governor’s Mansion Commission member Deborah Sargeant, who are awaiting Senate confirmation.

COVID 19 vaccine scam – Nikki Fried calls it ‘public corruption’


COVID vaccine scam

COVID vaccine distribution is allegedly a ‘pay to play’ scheme according to top Democratic officials.  United States Justice Department requested an investigation into Governor Ron DeSantis as the Democratic officials claimed that the Governor had directed vaccine doses to communities in the state’s wealthiest ZIP codes in exchange for campaign contributions.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Senate Democratic Leader Gary Farmer issued separate statements urging the United States Attorney and the Federal Bureau of Investigations to look into whether the $3.9 million in contributions made to Governor Ron DeSantis’s political committee since December alone were connected to favorable treatment for the COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Governor Ron Desantis angrily blasted a Miami Herald report on Thursday that quoted an internal newsletter sent to residents of the wealthy gated enclave of the Ocean Reef Club, located in north Key Largo.

A publication made on Friday had stated that  “over the course of the last two weeks, the Medical Center has vaccinated over 1,200 homeowners who qualify under the State of Florida’s Governor’s current Order for those individuals who are 65 years of age or older.”

Around that same time, the state data on the COVID-19 vaccinations by ZIP codes showed that the low-income neighborhoods tended to get hit harder by the COVID-19 spread but the wealthier neighborhoods were getting shots at a faster rate than the rest of the state.

Governor Ron DeSantis made a contradicting statement by denying having any involvement with the COVID vaccine distribution at the Medical Center at Ocean Reef. He said that the COVID vaccinations were handled by a “South Florida hospital,” which later was identified as Baptist Health System.

“That was not a site that we were involved in in the Keys,’’ Governor Ron DeSantis said at a news conference Thursday in Crystal River.

Monroe County officials later told the Times/Herald that the vaccine distribution to the wealthy community was coordinated by the state and the hospital system.

“Ocean Reef Medical Center received the vaccines as part of the Governor’s program to vaccinate communities with a population of 65-plus with a homeowner’s association and onsite medical center with the ability to administer the vaccines,” Kristen Livengood, Monroe County spokesperson, said in an email Thursday.

A Lighthouse Point Democrat, Farmer told reporters in Tallahassee that if Governor DeSantis had no role and the wealthy community received no special treatment, “then, Governor Ron should not fear an investigation at all. Let’s get that out in the open.”

COVID vaccine distribution at Baptist Health

As mentioned earlier, Baptist Health was one of the hospitals that received the COVID vaccines in January. They were to distribute to people over age 65 and high-risk patients. However, by January 19, three days before the emailed newsletter was sent to Ocean Reef residents, Baptist Health announced that it was canceling all first-dose vaccination appointments booked for Jan. 20 and later and no new appointments would be taken.

“Unfortunately, your appointment to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Baptist Health has been canceled due to uncertainty of vaccine supply,’’ the hospital system wrote to thousands of seniors and people with underlying medical conditions in an email.

Governor DeSantis applauded the hospital for providing doses to the Ocean Reef Club, an ultra-exclusive neighborhood that, according to Sotheby’s International Realty, has more than 2,100 members who live there either full or part-time.

“I support the hospitals doing that and really being proactive and trying to reach as many seniors as possible,” the governor said. He called the Miami Herald story a “really, really poorly executed hit piece.”

On Thursday Dori A. Alvarez, Baptist Health spokesperson said in an emailed statement that the health system “has been working with the State of Florida to provide logistical support to distribute COVID-19 vaccine doses across the South Florida community through hospitals, clinics, and partners, from Palm Beach to the Florida Keys, including the Medical Center at Ocean Reef.”

Governor DeSantis’ campaign reports show that since December the governor has raised a total of $3.9 million and, on Feb. 25, one resident of Ocean Reef, Bruce Rauner, the former Republican governor of Illinois and former chairman of the Chicago-based private equity firm GTCR, wrote a $250,000 check.

Nikki Fried on the COVID vaccine distribution

Nikki Fried and Farmer have requested the United States Justice Department to investigate this matter.

“If this isn’t public corruption, I don’t know what is,’’ said Fried at a news conference Thursday.

Nikki Fried accused Governor DeSantis of using the COVID-19 vaccine distribution “for political and personal gain ” by “auctioning them to the highest bidder” and said she was meeting with FBI officials to ask the public corruption unit to investigate.

“I know fact patterns. I’ve seen up close and personal, crime,’’ she said. “I don’t need a law degree from Harvard to know that when there is smoke, there is fire.”

“I am writing you to express my utmost concern about a number of troubling reports related to COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Florida, raising questions whether any quid pro quo was involved in the allocation of these vaccines, and to request that your office conduct a full and thorough investigation into any potential wrongdoing on the part of Governor DeSantis,’’ Farmer wrote in a letter to acting U.S. Attorney General Monty Wilkinson.

Furthermore, Nikki Fried also accused Governor Ron of not being transparent about this matter.

“How did they get to the hospitals?” Fried asked. “Who made this specific request?’’ she asked. “And so that’s why we’re asking for the investigation because there’s a lot of unanswered questions and a huge amount of paper trail that we need to cover.