Commissioner Vanessa Baugh apologized to Manatee County citizens at the start of Thursday’s work session for a backlash caused by an email Baugh sent to Public Safety Director Jacob Saur while she was setting up the Lakewood Ranch COVID-19 vaccination site at Premier Sports Campus for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Baugh's email asked that Schroeder-Manatee Ranch CEO and President Rex Jensen, Lawrence Jensen, herself, and two of Baugh’s neighbors be added to the vaccination list.
Baugh acknowledged sending an email to Saur but said she only wanted to ensure those included in the email were registered in the county’s Vaccination Standby Pool. Baugh said she has not received a vaccination.
Manatee County property records show Rex Jensen and Lawrence Jensen do not live in the 34202 or 34211 Zip codes.
Baugh was displeased the email leaked because it included personal information, such as phone numbers, of the listed people.
“But had I not sent the email to begin with, it wouldn’t have happened,” Baugh said. “So I’m taking full responsibility for that email. It’s my fault. I wrote it, sent it to our Public Safety Director, and what happened to it after that, I have no idea. But I will find out.”
Several commissioners called the email a "misjudgement" on Baugh’s part during a work session Thursday. Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge called it a “terrible mistake” and said the favoritism shown over the last few days has compromised the even playing field the county’s vaccine lottery system was supposed to ensure.
Commissioner Carol Whitmore said she appreciated the apology and that Baugh has never been one to back away from difficult topics. However, she agreed the situation wasn’t fair to Manatee County citizens.
“The intent of that list was to get shots, and Commissioner Baugh was on it,” Whitmore said.