June 9, 2020
A new report from Florida BullDog revealed that Governor DeSantis' emergency decree to have no-bid contracts was really ploy to reward top donors. The report detailed how three of his donors' firms received millions in state money, but the details of the contracts still have not been public.
The report also says it's not clear how the firms have delivered on their contracts, despite receiving millions of dollars to do so. It's the latest example of pay-to-play from the Ron DeSantis Administration.
Florida Bulldog. 6/7/20. “No-bid Florida COVID contracts flow to DeSantis donors”
"Millions of dollars in no-bid state contracts issued as part of Florida’s COVID-19 response have gone to a trio of firms tied to men who’ve contributed hefty sums to support Gov. Ron DeSantis’ political ambitions."
Among those contracts are $2.5 million in testing agreements with BioReference Laboratories. OPKO Health, chaired by South Florida billionaire and philanthropist Phillip Frost, acquired BioReference in 2015 for nearly $1.5 billion.
"Frost is also a major DeSantis donor, contributing $75,000 to Friends of Ron DeSantis in 2018, along with another $2,700 to the governor’s election campaign itself."
"Florida Bulldog first requested copies of both BioReference contracts on May 1, but the state has not provided a single document. The Transparency Florida Act requires both the Executive Office of the Governor and the Florida Department of Health to post copies of all contracts to the state’s contract database within 30 days, but both agencies have failed to do so with the BioReference contracts, among various other month-old contracts."
"Another contract winner with connections to DeSantis campaign funds is Physicians Group.....Sarasota-based Physicians Group is owned by chiropractor Gary Kompothecras, who has given Friends of Ron DeSantis more than $50,000, including $25,000 last October."
"Then there’s Ring Power Corporation, a heavy-equipment firm based in St. Augustine. The company obtained $6.6 million in state contracts to provide heavy duty mobile generators and other equipment since Gov. DeSantis issued his executive order declaring a COVID-19 Public Health Emergency on March 9."
"The firm itself has given Friends of Ron DeSantis $35,000. The firm has also given the Republican Party of Florida more than $190,000, including $50,000 last August."
"It’s unclear how exactly the state is selecting vendors for emergency COVID-19 contracts. It’s also unclear what the state is doing to screen vendors, if anything at all. As Florida Bulldog reported last month, the state at one point had an $11.3-million testing agreement with a firm run by a man who is on probation after pleading guilty to two financial felonies last year."
For Immediate Release
Contact: Karla Alvarado