Charlie Crist Promotes Multiple DeSantis COVID Conspiracies in Gubernatorial Announcement
Representative Charlie Crist (D., Florida) announced Tuesday that he would call on Governor Ron DeSantis to regain Florida's governorate chair. Part of his pitch is that he will value scientific contributions as governor - unlike DeSantis, whom he describes as "doctors under attack" and scientists "during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a video launching his campaign, Crist argued, "While COVID killed 35,000 Floridians, DeSantis attacked doctors and scientists." His voice was accompanied by a screenshot of a Sun Sentinel article from South Florida detailing how Florida police carried out a search warrant on the home of disgraced ex-government employee Rebekah Jones.
Crist apparently shares the view that Jones, who was fired from her position as a data worker at the Florida Department of Health due to multiple performance issues, is a truthful “whistleblower”.
Jones claimed she was fired for courageously withstanding efforts by the DeSantis administration to hide the state's true death toll from COVID. However, according to several state officials, Jones actually objected to routine government policies that required a thorough review of the death toll before being added to the state's COVID dashboard. The numbers Jones claimed were hidden were added to the dash less than a day after she raised her concerns.
Florida Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat, has warned against believing the "conspiracy theories" that Jones has repeatedly advanced.
Police ransacked Jones' home after discovering that someone in her home had illegally accessed a state government messaging system to tell government officials to "report before another 17,000 people are dead."
“You pointed a gun in my face. They pointed guns at my children, ”Jones tweeted after police searched her home. Florida Department of Law Enforcement officer Rick Swearingen said in a statement that "at no point were guns pointed at anyone in the house" and that Jones refused to let the police in for more than 20 minutes despite having a search warrant on the premises .
Jones also accused DeSantis of orchestrating the raid, but a governor's spokesman said the governor's office had "no involvement, knowledge, or anything in this investigation," adding that the investigation was initiated before the news broke Jones had been linked.
Crist, whose current congressional district is likely to be redrawn following the 2022 redistribution, has also advanced other unconfirmed or debunked COVID conspiracies against DeSantis.
He promoted a Yahoo article misrepresenting a study examining Florida's "excessive deaths" during the pandemic to suggest that DeSantis "is likely to be hiding thousands of positive COVID cases" - a phrase used by the Main author of the study believes it is wrong.
And Crist promoted a now infamous 60-minute story that indicated that DeSantis had signed a treasury contract with grocery chain Publix to distribute vaccines.
After the story was published, in which a DeSantis response was selectively edited, several Democrats - including the Palm Beach County Mayor who the story focused on - called it "absolutely malicious" and "deliberately wrong."
In his campaign video, Crist also suggests that DeSantis "was handing out vaccines to its wealthy contributors while the seniors had to wait". That narrative is denied by DeSantis and Moskowitz, director of emergency management, who suggest that the demographic makeup of vaccine recipients is a natural consequence of Florida's disproportionately white population.
"We're trying to vaccinate as many seniors as possible," Moskowitz told National Review. “If a senior living on a housing project and potentially getting COVID gets COVID compared to a senior living in Century Village or The Villages, both of them may end up in hospital in each of their communities. And at the end of the day we all have to vaccinate. "
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