Democrat Nikki Fried’s PAC is attempting to raise campaign money over what she considers Gov. Ron DeSantis’ highhanded exclusion of Florida Cabinet members, including Fried herself, in making decisions about COVID-19.
“I’ve always put state before party and supported the Florida Cabinet — including the governor. But when our governor remains silent and the Cabinet cancels meetings during a pandemic, something must be done,” Fried said Tuesday in an email message on behalf of Florida Consumers First, her political action committee.
“If we want a government that offers transparency and leadership, we need to elect Democrats up and down the ballot. That’s why every dollar you donate to me this month goes to support Democratic candidates in the coming election,” she wrote.
The email contains links to the PAC.
Fried is an attorney, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the only Democrat serving on the independently elected Cabinet, which with the governor decides many matters of state policy.
The panel met Tuesday morning for the first time since May, when members convened by telephone conference call. The time before that was in February. In the past, the panel has convened about once per month.
Governors chair the panel, schedule its meetings, and set the agenda.
Fried has been steaming for months about DeSantis’ refusal to agenda items she has wanted to discuss, including plans for federal COVID-relief money, the failed unemployment insurance system, and supervision of state Department of Health data.
On Monday, she held a virtual “cupboard” meeting to highlight her calls for more collegiality.
DeSantis told reporters following Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting that the main agencies responding to COVID don’t report to the Cabinet but to him alone, but that Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis have been able to get any questioned answered.
Neither Moody nor Patronis has raised public objections to the meeting schedule.
“You know we’re on it because we understand how important it is. And so those are just a lot of things that, you know, are not necessarily under the Cabinet’s purview,” the governor said.