TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida cabinet met for the first time in nearly four months on Thursday, with three of the state-elected panel members joining by phone and the fourth taking its place on an empty raise in the state capitol.
What you need to know
- The tensions are evident between Governor DeSantis, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried
- Deeply critical of cabinet “marginalization” during DeSantis’ treatment of the coronavirus crisis
- State CFO, Attorney General, each expressed support for DeSantis’ actions during a crisis
- More Florida Capitol Stories
Nikki Fried, Commissioner for Agriculture, removed her mask to speak towards the end of the meeting and told Governor Ron DeSantis that he requests her to hear from state health officials and to study state finances amid the crisis as a violation would reject transparency.
“These calendar questions have been made in good faith and have not been acknowledged, let alone met,” Fried said. “That’s a real shame for anyone who deserves the truth. Floridians expect our government to be united, especially in these times of unprecedented challenges. ”
As the cabinet’s only Democrat, Fried has often spoken to the Governor, but her condemnation of what she says is his marginalization of the panel’s role during the crisis. DeSantis staff canceled two previously scheduled cabinet meetings when the virus spread across the state.
“Each of us received over four million votes and was brought here to do a job, and this cabinet has been left in limbo for the most critical of nearly four months of this pandemic,” she argued.
Fried has wondered why the DeSantis administration initially withheld information about which nursing homes and state prisons had killed the corona virus. She has also called for an investigation into the sudden dismissal of Rebekah Jones, a manager of the Florida Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard, who told friends she refused to remove critical statistics from the site.
But the governor has defenders in Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Attorney General Ashley Moody, who praised his government’s approach to his crisis.
“Governor, this is Jimmy,” Patronis intervened. “Look, hey, I wanted to thank you. I am more proud of being a Floridian by seeing you and your administration deal with something that has never been seen before in our lives. “
At the beginning of the meeting, DeSantis ignored Fried’s request to silence victims of the Florida corona virus.