- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis faces questions over a vaccine deal with the Publix grocery chain.
- CBS “60 Minutes” reported that weeks before the announcement, Publix donated $100,000 to DeSantis’ PAC.
- DeSantis told “60 Minutes” that any suggestion of a pay-for-play partnership was “a fake narrative.”
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis faces questions over his vaccine distribution partnership with the Publix grocery store chain, which donated a total of $100,000 to his political action committee in the weeks leading up to the deal’s announcement, 60 Minutes revealed Sunday.
DeSantis refused an interview with 60 Minutes, but was confronted by a reporter about the timing of the Publix donations at a press conference last month, where the governor denied any wrongdoing.
“What you’re saying is wrong … That’s a fake narrative,” DeSantis said. “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.'”
DeSantis announced on January 5 that Publix would distribute COVID-19 vaccines through their pharmacies, though it’s unclear what the governor’s personal role in the deal was. The chain receives almost 1 in 4 of all Florida’s shots, according to local media. On December 7 and 31, 2020, Publix donated a total of $100,000 to DeSantis’ PAC, according to campaign filings seen by Insider.
A county commissioner, Melissa McKinlay, told 60 Minutes that the governor never met with her about the Publix partnership.
Publix responded to the criticism with a statement to 60 Minutes, calling the accusation that they paid for the chance to distribute the vaccines “absolutely false and offensive.”
“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. We are proud of our pharmacy associates for administering more than 1.5 million doses of vaccine to date and for joining other retailers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia to do our part to help our communities emerge from the pandemic,” the statement read.
Insider reached out to both DeSantis and Publix for additional comment, but did not immediately receive a response Monday morning.
The details about the Publix donations and vaccine…