- February 26, 2021
Although Manatee County District 5 Commissioner Vanessa Baugh couldn't release details, on Monday she said her case with the Florida Commission on Ethics has been settled.
Baugh said she couldn't comment on settlement details until the Florida Commission on Ethics signs off on the settlement and it is signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
She did say she had signed the settlement, as did the Florida Commission on Ethics' advocate.
Baugh's hearing with the Florida Commission on Ethics was scheduled to begin Tuesday and has been canceled.
The longtime commissioner was accused of misusing her position to allow Lakewood Ranch to host a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the request of the governor in February 2021. Eighteen ethics complaints were filed against Baugh, who bypassed her fellow commissioners to set up the clinic and to limit it to two Lakewood Ranch and vicinity ZIP Codes.
A four-month investigation by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office into a criminal complaint against Baugh found she had broken no laws. However, an administrative hearing was ordered by the Florida Commission on Ethics because she had not followed Manatee County's lottery system for vaccinations.
Baugh also had made a list of five individuals, including herself, to receive vaccinations at the clinic. She did not actually receive a vaccination at the clinic.
Elizabeth Miller, the Florida Commission on Ethics advocate and an assistant attorney general who represents the complainants, had agreed to a continuance in August.
A motion by Commissioner Reggie Bellamy to remove Baugh from her then-role as chair of the commission failed in February with a 4-3 vote.