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Feds Probe Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Funding For Migrant Plane Trips

A Treasury Department watchdog said it “has audit work planned” on the state’s compliance with requirements for using American Rescue…

By admin , in Breaking News Trending , at October 14, 2022

A Treasury Department watchdog said it “has audit work planned” on the state’s compliance with requirements for using American Rescue Plan funds.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is already facing lawsuits and an investigation by a Texas sheriff for flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard as a political stunt last month.

Now he is facing another investigation for the trips, this time from a federal watchdog.

The Treasury Department inspector general’s office is looking into whether DeSantis “improperly used” money linked to COVID-19 aid to fund flights from Texas to the Massachusetts island, Politico reported on Wednesday. DeSantis reportedly had an Army veteran lure Venezuelan migrants to make the trip, falsely promising them work and shelter.

The inspector general’s office sent a letter to Massachusetts lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D), stating that it “has audit work planned” on whether the state complied with requirements for using funds from the American Rescue Plan.

“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,” reads the Oct. 7 letter from the department’s deputy inspector general Richard K. Delmar.

The letter follows a report by The Washington Post that the governor appeared to have used interest earned from the COVID-19 aid to help pay for the migrant trips.

Records show the state paid a company $1.56 million so far for the planes to fly migrants, according to Politico.

Florida reserved about $12 million in COVID-19 aid interest for a migrant transportation program in its 2022-23 budget. However, the budget’s language calls for the transport to be for migrants from within Florida, Axios noted.

Delmar’s letter stated the office will “review the allowability” of using aid “related to immigration generally and will specifically confirm whether interest earned on [the money] was utilized by Florida related to immigration activities, and if so, what conditions and limitations apply to such use.”

DeSantis spokesperson Taryn Fenske told Politico that Delmar’s office talked with the Florida Office of Policy and Budget “weeks ago” on the topic of using interest earnings from the aid to pay for the trips.

Markey said in a statement on Wednesday that he applauded the response from the Treasury Department inspector general’s office.

“For the sake of the migrants who were lured onto charter planes under false pretenses, and for the commendable Commonwealth residents who rallied together to offer support, I hope that this investigation sheds light on whether Governor DeSantis misused funds that were intended for COVID relief for Floridians,” he said.


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