Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is at it again. The White House-chasing wannabe authoritarian has added persecuting pro-vaccine advocates to his list of victims by announcing he wants to prosecute those on the side of lifesaving science.
“In Florida, it is against the law to mislead, to misrepresent, particularly when you’re talking about the efficacy of a drug,” the recently reelected Republican said.
At a supposed vaccine accountability roundtable of anti-vaccination propagandists, DeSantis secured his place as one of the worst governors ever, saying:
“Today, I’m announcing a petition with the Supreme Court of Florida to impanel a statewide grand jury to investigate any and all wrongdoing in Florida with respect to the COVID-19 vaccines,” he said, HuffPost reported.
In true Republican fashion, his recent announcement is in direct contradiction to the governor’s “Senior First” campaign to vaccinate the state’s elderly population in the spring of 2021.
DeSantis preened and pranced around the Sunshine State, patting himself on the back for the rollout of vaccines in older – and whiter – parts of Florida like the Villages, visiting temporary vaccine pop-ups, and praising his vaccine response.
The Governor echoed data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that confirmed the efficacy of the vaccine in preventing unnecessary death from the coronavirus.
“If you look at the people who are being admitted to hospitals, over 95 percent of them are either not fully vaccinated or not vaccinated at all. These vaccines are saving lives. they are reducing mortality,” HuffPostreported.
Despite spending the first full year of the pandemic championing anti-lockdown mandates that contributed to the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands of avoidable deaths, the Florida man did a double backflip once the vaccine rollout began.
And now he’s come full circle.
Ron DeSantis, who’s been presented as the competent moderate version of Trump, has descended into the rabbit hole of anti-vax conspiracy theorists.
The mental and moral degeneration of Trumpism reaches far beyond Trump.
— Ritchie Torres (@RitchieTorres) December 14, 2022
Rumors that Gov. DeSantis has his eyes set on the 2024 election have led to criticism that this latest display of performative politics is just a power play to the anti-vaccination GOP base – but those in Trump World aren’t convinced by the switch.
Longtime Trump adviser and Republican operative, Roger Stone, wasted no time in criticizing DeSantis, who the self-described dirty trickster has publicly criticized.
“Prior to this, his position was identical to Trump’s, and he advocated the efficiency and safety of vaccines. That’s his record,” the self-described dirty trickster said, NBC News reported.
Occupy Democrats reached out to Roger Stone for comment but we’re still awaiting a reply.
Stone wasn’t the only Trump advisor to call out DeSantis’ power play, another close contact to the former president told NBC News, after requesting anonymity:
“We know what he’s up to.”
“The fact is, we’ve seen this coming for a year, ever since Ron started to get anti-vax,” the Republican said, discussing DeSantis’s flip flop on the vaccine. “Yes, there’s a portion of our base that is anti-vax and some people could walk away from Trump over it. That’s why Ron is doing it. It’s so transparent.”
The Florida authoritarian has been losing big in his culture wars against education, marginalized communities, and his recent stunt relocating asylum-seeking migrants – and at least two of those arrested by his so-called Election Integrity Police had their cases dismissed in the misguided and misleading attempt to claim he was cracking down on voter fraud.
But DeSantis is going to be DeSantis, and this is just the latest example.
Though touted as a frontrunner for the GOP of nomination for President in 2024, it’s in no way a done deal and, apparently, DeSantis knows it.
He’s digging deeper under the barrel with his latest announcement that will persecute the very ones who kept — and continue to keep — his constituents alive.
If we’ve learned anything over the past few years when it comes to a power-hungry wannabe dictator, the lives of Floridians are the price he’s willing to pay for a shot at the Oval Office.
Original reporting by S.V. Date at HuffPost and by Marc Caputo at NBC News.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick