Florida Official Who Promoted DeSantis Conspiracy Theories Announces Run For Governor

Screenshot via Twitter/NikkiFried

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Florida Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried will run in the Democratic primary for governor.

“Those in power will do whatever harm it takes to stay there. But I’ve spent my whole life taking on the system. I’m unafraid. I’m tested. I’m ready,” Fried said in an announcement video posted to Twitter.

Fried joins Rep. Charlie Crist in the primary field. Crist, a former Republican, served as the state’s governor from 2007-2011.

During her time in office, Fried has shared multiple conspiracy theories about Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. She has also promoted Rebekah Jones, a former state employee who claimed, without evidence, that she was ordered to change the number of Florida’s COVID-19 cases and deaths. Jones was later arrested for allegedly hacking Florida’s emergency alert system.

Despite reporting from local and national media outlets on Jones’ lack of credibility, Fried repeatedly shared Jones’ COVID-19 tracker, which showed more cases and deaths than the state’s. She also echoed Jones’ theory that Florida was systematically and deliberately under-counting COVID-19 cases and deaths. (RELATED: Report: Fired Florida Data Manager Received Multiple Warnings Prior To Her Ouster)

Screenshot via Twitter/NikkiFried

Fried has also promoted multiple unproven stories alleging DeSantis and Florida illicitly distributed COVID-19 vaccines to political allies.

After the Miami Herald reported that DeSantis donors were among the elderly members of a Florida gated community that was one of the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines, Fried announced that she would meet with the FBI over the state’s lack of “equal opportunity and equal access” to vaccines.

DeSantis pushed back on the Herald article, saying, “If you’re 65 and up, I’m not worried about your income bracket, I’m worried about your age bracket. It’s the age, not the income, that shows the risk.”

Fried wrote a letter to members of Congress, including Democratic South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn and Republican Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, asking them to look into “pop-up” vaccination sites in affluent parts of the state that allegedly allowed DeSantis’ supporters to receive vaccinations first.

“There are numerous alarming reports of alleged political favoritism by Gov. Ron DeSantis in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine doses throughout the State of Florida,” she wrote.

In addition to the “pop-up” sites, Fried claimed that DeSantis “withheld vaccine doses, in an act of potential political retribution, from the largely Hispanic, predominantly Cuban-American city of Hialeah whose mayor has been critical of DeSantis.”

Fried also praised a since-debunked 60 Minutes segment alleging that the state of Florida partnered with the grocery-store chain Publix to distribute COVID-19 vaccines because it donated to DeSantis’ election campaign.

Tonight 60 Minutes is exposing the nation to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ failings & corruption during the pandemic,” she tweeted.

Screenshot via Twitter/NikkiFried

Multiple Florida officials, including Democrats, called out the 60 Minutes segment for its inaccuracies.

No one from the Governors office suggested Publix,” Florida’s Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz, tweeted.

“I told them that the Publix story was ‘bullshit,’ he continued. “Walked them through the whole process. The fact that I didn’t sit down on ‘camera’ because I am responding to a 100 year emergency doesn’t change the truth.”

“The reporting was not just based on bad information—it was intentionally false,” Democratic Palm Beach Mayor Dave Kerner added. “I know this because I offered to provide my insight into Palm Beach County’s vaccination efforts and 60 Minutes declined.”

Fried also refused to follow a DeSantis order calling for state flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of the late radio host Rush Limbaugh. “We will not celebrate hate speech, bigotry, and division,” she said.

Fried did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment.