The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday approved a request by Gov. Ron DeSantis to impanel a statewide grand jury to investigate alleged wrongdoing related to Covid-19 vaccines.
The Supreme Court issued an order that impaneled a grand jury for a year and appointed Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ronald Ficarrotta to preside over it. Grand jury members will be drawn from five judicial circuits.
The approval came after DeSantis on Dec. 13 submitted a request that alleged “there are good and sufficient reasons to deem it to be in the public interest to impanel a statewide grand jury to investigate criminal or wrongful activity in Florida relating to the development, promotion, and distribution of vaccines purported to prevent COVID-19 infection, symptoms, and transmission.”
Chief Justice Carlos Muniz and Justices Charles Canady, Ricky Polston, John Couriel and Jamie Grosshans supported DeSantis’ request, while Justice Jorge Labarga opposed it, according to the order. Justice Renatha Francis did not take part.
While DeSantis promoted vaccinating people, particularly seniors, after the drugs became available in 2020, he later became a high-profile opponent of vaccination mandates and has raised questions about the effectiveness of the shots.
State Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, who was appointed last year by DeSantis, also has drawn controversy for his positions on the vaccines. For example, he issued guidance in March that said the risks of providing COVID-19 vaccines to healthy children could be greater than the benefits — contrary to guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says parents should get their children vaccinated.
DeSantis’ request for a statewide grand jury focused, in part, on statements by drug companies and federal officials that the vaccines would prevent transmission of COVID-19.
“Florida law prohibits fraudulent practices, including the dissemination of false or misleading advertisements of a drug and the use of any representation or suggestion in any advertisement relating to a drug that an application of a drug is effective when it is not,” the request said. “The pharmaceutical industry has a notorious history of misleading the public for financial gain. Questions have been raised regarding the veracity of the representations made by the pharmaceutical manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines, particularly with respect to transmission, prevention, efficacy, and safety. An investigation is warranted to determine whether the pharmaceutical industry has engaged in fraudulent practices.”
DeSantis, who is widely considered a potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate, has tapped into vaccine skepticism that is shared by many conservative voters. But his request for a grand jury also has drawn criticism, with opponents saying vaccines help save lives.
During an appearance Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said “we shouldn’t undermine science, we shouldn’t undermine the medical community that’s very important to our public health.”
“During the pandemic, things change from time to time,” Hutchinson said. “We had more information. So, we had to adjust. And that’s what leaders do. But I don’t think it’s good to go back, whether you’re going back to the 2020 election or whether you’re going back and trying to re-litigate everything that happened during the pandemic.”
Also, while DeSantis has focused on issues about transmission, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says vaccinations help prevent serious illnesses and deaths from COVID-19.
“COVID 19-vaccines are effective at protecting people from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and dying,” the federal agency says on its website. “Vaccination remains the safest strategy for avoiding hospitalizations, long-term health outcomes and death.”
Thursday’s Supreme Court order said the grand jury will look at people and “entities, including, but not limited to, pharmaceutical manufacturers (and their executive officers) and other medical associations or organizations involved in the design, development, clinical testing or investigation, manufacture, marketing, representation, advertising, promotion, labeling, distribution, formulation, packing, sale, purchase, donation, dispensing, prescribing, administration, or use of vaccines purported to prevent COVID-19 infection, symptoms, and transmission.”
–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida
Smart Floridian says
I thought DeSantis was to be well educated and pretty smart. This move makes him a complete idiot.
Ray W. says
Quite the interesting issue!
As a young man, I read about a historical event that occurred during my very early teen years. I am not saying I have a complete memory about an article published some 45 years ago, but here goes nothing.
Circuit Judge Uriel Blount became concerned about alleged activities occurring within the State Attorney’s Office, so on his judicial authority, he convened a grand jury to investigate his concerns. That action, while unique enough, paled in comparison to what he did next. He suspended the elected State Attorney, Stephen Boyles from the process, and appointed my father, a former elected State Attorney, as acting State Attorney to handle the investigation.
I had heard nothing at all about this when it was happening, so I asked my father. He demurred, stating that it involved grand jury proceedings; he just wouldn’t talk about it.
State Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, who was appointed by DeSantis, once promoted hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin as COVID treatments. Both drugs have been proven to not be effective in treating patients with COVID.
“Florida law prohibits fraudulent practices, including the dissemination of false or misleading advertisements of a drug and the use of any representation or suggestion in any advertisement relating to a drug that an application of a drug is effective when it is not,” the request said.
I certainly hope the grand jury looks into Ladapo’s representation that those two drugs were effective, when they are not.
The CDC website details the effectiveness of the COVID vaccines and their safety. On the page titled “COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness Monthly Update”, there is a list of 25 studies, with links, that determine the effectiveness of the vaccines. The information is openly and freely available to everyone. Instead DeSantis is wasting money on a carnival act.
You said : “Instead DeSantis is wasting money on a carnival act.”
I beg to differ ..
1) It’s not his money – so he doesn’t consider it a waste.
2) It will (has already) gotten him more free PR and national attention
3) It’s citizen-sponsored free meat to toss to the MAGA crowd
4) It diverts attention from all the rest of the BS he is pulling (no-license firearms carry, electoral goon squads, his attack(s) and threats on financial institutions because they don’t agree with his political machinations, etc).
As we have seen in the past – Whether or not his ideas (notions, fads, press releases, whatever) get reversed in courts AFTER the fact, he still garners the plusses and PR just from initiating them. Once they have gotten him the recognition, he really doesn’t care whether they survive or not.
So, while I agree that he should be reined in and held responsible for the stupidity – He’s making hay on the attention – using someone else’s money – so I’m sure he considers it worthwhile.
J Doelker says
I agree with everything you say Dale. This carnival act is only a sideshow for his creation of a health board filled with appointed persons who will counter any health instructions produced by unapproved agencies and persons. There is no need for the creation of a state board except to create more sideshows of distraction while more important business is handled in the dark, such as the last home insurance bill.
Deborah Coffey says
What a ridiculous waste of our time and tax dollars…all based on the fascist dictator’s 180 degree turn on the vaccines to please his ridiculous, enraged base.
Bill C says
DeSantis will tear the mask off this covid vaccination fraud to reveal what’s hiding behind it- an international cabal of cannibalistic satanic pedophiles.
Man! How did we miss out on electing you to the School Board?
JimBob: I think Bill C. is kidding, but who knows anymore?
Bill C says
yes, just kidding… it’s a satire
I wonder if one could not proceed to sue him under the same law for spreading unfounded rumors about ineffectiveness, thus undermining public health.
Here’s a holiday cocktail recipe called the “DeSantis” that will make spirits bright. It’s one ounce Ivermectin, one ounce Hydroxychloroquine, a jigger of bleach, some ice, then shaken (not stirred). Serve in a mason jar. Recipe courtesy of John F Kennedy Jr.
DeSantis is such an ass. I am fully vaxxed, wore masks, and listened to Mayo Clinic rather than Tucker Carlson, and all I know is I’m not in a hospital, laying on my stomach, and on a ventilator gasping for my last breath. Same for hubby.
DeSantis is such an ass. He should be investigated by the ass patrol, along with anyone else who believes this crap of his. Sorry folks, but this is nonsense that needs to stop.
@Different day — same old…
The difference between tailgunner joe mccarthy — and trump, desantis, and the rest of the elected Republcan Party monkey impersonators flinging their poop at the world is this: that was then — and this is now.
“The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs… In fact, the Athanasian paradox that one is three, and three but one, is so incomprehensible to the human mind, that no candid man can say he has any idea of it, and how can he believe what presents no idea? He who thinks he does, only deceives himself. He proves, also, that man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without a rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck. [Letter to James Smith discussing Jefferson’s hate of the doctrine of the Christian trinity, December 8 1822]”
― Thomas Jefferson, Letters of Thomas Jefferson
Ray W. says
Pogo: In a 1787 letter to his nephew, Peter, Jefferson wrote of his argument that reason, heaven’s gift to mankind, was the method by which individuals must examine the existence of God. In, paragraph 4, Jeffferson wrote:
“Your reason is now mature enough to examine this object. In the first place, divest yourself of all bias in favor of novelty & singularity of opinion. Indulge them in any other subject rather than that of religion. It is too important, and the consequences of error may be too serious. On the other hand, shake off all the fears & servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear…”
“Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you. If you find reason to believe there is a God, a consciousness that you are acting under his eye & that he approves you, will be a vast additional incitement; if that there be a future state, the hope of a happy existence in that increases the appetite to deserve it; if that Jesus was also a God, you will be comforted by a belief of his aid and love. In fine, I repeat, you must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, and neither believe nor reject anything, because any other persons, or description of persons, have rejected or believed it. Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are answerable, not for the rightness, but uprightness of the decision.”
Your chiding is subtle, as ever.
Jefferson, an extraordinary human being, is with us still, if we only pay attention. Sadly, the received knowledge of all the past generations, e.g., the KJV of the bible, all to often, is ignored at best — and shamelessly misused at worst (I’m intentionally ironic putting Jefferson and the KJV bible in the same sentence.) I give you a prime example of the worst:
And a wonderful example of the best:
I urge everyone to learn more about, not from, Kirk — and his ilk.
Anyone noting the time of day of this message: yes, it’s early am, Christmas, and I am suffering insomnia.