MANATEE COUNTY (WFLA) — The Manatee County Commissioner who helped organize the exclusive vaccine clinic in Lakewood Ranch last year has settled her ethics case. The public hearing relating to the 18 complaints submitted to the state was scheduled for Tuesday morning, but court records show it was canceled due to the settlement agreement.
Officials with the state told 8 On Your Side the settlement doesn’t mean the case is over just yet. The Florida Commission on Ethics has yet to receive the stipulated agreements. Once that takes place, a date will be scheduled for the board to review the settlement and either approve or deny the stipulations.
It’s been almost one year since the ethics commission found probable cause that Commissioner Vanessa Baugh violated her oath of office when she helped organize an exclusive vaccine clinic in the district she represents. The pop-up clinic took place in February 2021, a time when demand for the vaccine was high and supplies were still scarce. In addition to limiting the shots to people in two of the zip codes she represents, Baugh is also accused of creating a ‘VIP list’ of five people to receive the vaccine, including herself.
The ethics commission received 18 separate complaints regarding her actions in early 2021.
Following the settlement this week, residents who called for the commissioner to resign said they are still hoping to see Baugh held accountable.
“I am disappointed that while the settlement seems to have been agreed upon, we are not aware of any of the details yet. I find that disturbing,” said county resident Tina Shope. “What I think she should do at this point is resign from the commission and not run for public office again,” she continued.
Baugh indicated earlier in the year that 2022 may be her final year serving on Manatee County’s commission.
“Probably by the end of this year, I will be resigning because I have had about all of this board that I want. I have bigger and better things to think about,” said Commissioner Baugh during a January 2022 meeting.
8 On Your Side reached out to the commissioner, her aide, and her attorney for comment regarding the settlement Tuesday. As of this report, we have not received a response.