When deals kept falling through for Florida's Department of Emergency Management to acquire N95 face masks for the state's health care workers, Director Jared Moskowitz inked a deal with Shark Group. The state was to acquire one million masks for $7 each from the company, run by CEO Daymond John of Shark Tank, Moskowitz tells the Miami Herald. The deal fell apart in mid-April for reasons that aren't clear, but 3M, the masks' manufacturer, is now looking into how it originated, per the New York Times. In a statement, 3M notes the Shark Group "is not an authorized distributor of 3M products or one of our channel partners" and that the mask's list price is just $1.27. It adds it's filing suits against those using the "company’s name, brand, or trademark to engage in price gouging of N95 respirators and other illegal and unethical behavior."
While 3M says it doesn't know for sure that John's company was actually price gouging, it's nevertheless "happy ... to assist law enforcement authorities if they wish to look into this matter." In his own statement, John disputes the reports, calling them "a complete reckless disregard for the truth" that don't acknowledge he was actually trying to protect consumers from getting ripped off. "Many states were forced to blindly wire money to nefarious parties around the world," he writes. "My company was serving as an intermediary to vet the numerous 3M distributors and to protect Florida taxpayers." Moskowitz is backing John up: He retweeted John's post and added a message of support, writing, "Thank you @TheSharkDaymond for trying to help me save lives." (Read more Shark Tank stories.)