Manatee County commissioner reaches a settlement over a COVID-19 vaccine appointment controversy

A Manatee County commissioner has reached a settlement on an ethics charge after she was accused of putting herself and her friends at the top of the list for a COVID-19 vaccine last year. There would have been a hearing Nov. 1 if not for the settlement agreement.

Vanessa Baugh caught widespread backlash in March of 2021 for inserting her name and four people she knew at the top of the appointment list for a vaccination event with 3,000 limited doses, as originally reported by the Bradenton Herald.

Baugh helped coordinate the event, which was in the Lakewood Ranch area, and only available to residents in two Lakewood Ranch ZIP codes.

The ethics commission said it found probable cause that Baugh violated constitutional rules by abusing her power as county commissioner to prioritize certain people.

Last year, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office said Baugh would not face charges, but the office did confirm she used her position to benefit herself and others.

Court records don’t show details of the settlement between the commission and Baugh.

WUSF News reached out to Baugh and the Manatee County Commission for comment, but did not get a response by the publishing time of this story.