Critics of far-right Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have been arguing that he crossed an ethical line when he sent planes of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts — a political stunt they say was designed to troll Democrats, as Massachusetts is a deep blue state that President Joe Biden carried by 33 percent in 2020. Some of those critics have been calling for an investigation, and now, according to Politico, one is being carried out by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Inspector General’s Office.
Journalists Gary Fineout and Lisa Kashinsky report that the Office is “examining Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ migrant transports” in order to determine “whether the Republican governor improperly used money connected to COVID-19 aid to facilitate the flights.”
“The agency’s Inspector General’s Office confirmed to several members of Massachusetts’s Democratic congressional delegation that it planned ‘to get this work underway as soon as possible’ to probe Florida’s spending as part of ongoing audits into how states have used the billions…. sent to them as part of the American Rescue Plan, according to a letter provided by Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey’s office,” Fineout and Kashinsky explain. “In an October 7 letter to Markey and five House members, Richard K. Delmar, deputy inspector general for the Treasury Department, told the lawmakers that the agency would ‘review the allowability’ of COVID-19 aid to states ‘related to immigration generally, and will specifically confirm whether interest earned on (the) funds was utilized by Florida related to immigration activities, and if so, what conditions and limitations apply to such use.’”
Fineout and Kashinsky note that the letter “marks the first time federal authorities have acknowledged they’re looking into the transports” to Martha’s Vineyard.
“Florida did not directly use federal COVID-19 funds to transport the migrants,” according to the Politico reporters. “But state legislators, earlier this year, directed that $12 million in interest earned off COVID-19 aid be used to pay for the transport of ‘unauthorized aliens from this state.’ So far, Florida paid a Panhandle-based company $1.56 million to fly migrants, but DeSantis has vowed to continue transporting them to blue strongholds.”
In the letter, Delmar wrote, “We plan to get this work underway as quickly as possible, consistent with meeting our other oversight mandates and priorities, both in pandemic recovery programs as well as the other Treasury programs and operations for which we have responsibility. We are also monitoring legislative and judicial challenges to the use of the funds for this purpose; such developments may affect the scope and timing of our review.”