“Shark Tank” star Daymond John on Wednesday lashed out at what he called a “false, inaccurate” report by the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times about his role in a deal for the state of Florida to purchase 1 million N95 masks for workers during the coronavirus pandemic at three times the market price.
The state decided health-care workers in COVID-19 hot spots needed access to the much-needed masks, no matter the price, Jared Moskowitz, director of the Florida Department of Emergency Management, told the Herald. The paper reported that on March 25 the state signed a $7 million purchase order with John’s Shark Group instead of buying the masks to supply the state with 1 million 3M-made masks for $7 each — well above typical rate of about $2 apiece.
Although documents were signed by the governor’s general counsel, Joe Jacquot, the deal fell through on April 13, the Herald reported.
But John said that he did not have a direct role in setting the terms of the deal and merely acted as a middleman between the state and distributors. “I did not set any prices,” John said in a statement. “My company was serving as an intermediary to vet the numerous 3M distributors and to protect Florida taxpayers, while establishing escrow protections that allowed the State to conduct proper due diligence before finalizing its purchase of masks. Our system did exactly what it was intended to do. No money was spent and every penny of taxpayers money remained safe.”
Moskowitz, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, also spoke in defense of John’s actions to help the state meet an unexpected demand for medical supplies. “This was not somebody off the street, this was Daymond John,” Moskowitz told the Herald. “He came to me and said, ‘I’ve been in the clothing business. I have connections with factories in China.'”
Here is John’s full statement:
“Today’s Miami Herald story and subsequent reports are false, inaccurate and shows a complete reckless disregard for the truth. Let me be clear: Proper reporting would have shown I did not set any prices and that my team worked with the State of Florida to: 1. Save lives 2. Help vet the overwhelming amount of incoming PPE offerings based on my manufacturing expertise and guide them how to best do this 3. Play a pivotal role to stop pricing gouging, and successfully identify potential fraud and theft of PPE product to protect taxpayers funds. States were not setup to vet and operate global supply chains and sourcing. Many states were forced to blindly wire money to nefarious parties around the world and ultimately never received correct or safe product. My company was serving as an intermediary to vet the numerous 3M distributors and to protect Florida taxpayers, while establishing escrow protections that allowed the State to conduct proper due diligence before finalizing its purchase of masks. Our system did exactly what it was intended to do. No money was spent and every penny of taxpayers money remained safe. We will continue to work with the proper government agencies in this capacity. The Miami Herald’s characterization of my work completely disregards this. Instead, it opts for a gross distortion of the truth in a blind effort to create splashy headlines to mislead readers.”
Moskowitz and the Florida Department of Emergency Management did not immediately reply to TheWrap’s request for comment, but he acknowledged John’s statement in a tweet Monday:
“Thank you @TheSharkDaymond for trying to help me save lives,” he wrote. “We will continue to do everything we can to help our doctors and nurses, the hero’s [sic] on the front line.”
Thank you @TheSharkDaymond for trying to help me save lives. I support the statement below. We will continue to do everything we can to help our doctors and nurses, the hero’s on the front line. https://t.co/GEMjFAqzF9
— Jared Moskowitz (@JaredEMoskowitz) April 22, 2020
An important message to read in full. pic.twitter.com/qnUiJbgivz
— Daymond John (@TheSharkDaymond) April 22, 2020