Feds launch probe into Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' migrant flights to Martha's Vineyard

In a letter, the Treasury Department said it's trying to determine whether Florida misused federal COVID-19 relief funds to pay for the flights.

The Treasury Department is the first federal agency to launch an investigation into DeSantis' migrant flights that left from San Antonio in September. - Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons
Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons
The Treasury Department is the first federal agency to launch an investigation into DeSantis' migrant flights that left from San Antonio in September.
The Treasury Department is investigating whether Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis improperly used federal COVID-19 relief funds to pay for his now infamous migrant flights from San Antonio to Martha's Vineyard.

The agency confirmed in a letter to U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, that it's conducting a probe into Florida's use of those federal funds. In the letter, Treasury Deputy Inspector General Richard K. Delmar said the examination is part of a larger audit into how states, including Florida, made use of federal COVID relief.

News of the probe comes after DeSantis hired private charter planes to carry a group of 50 migrants — mostly Venezuelans — from the Alamo City to the Massachusetts resort community. Those asylum seekers later said they were lured onto the flights with false promises of jobs and shelter.

DeSantis reportedly funded the flights via a $12 million pot Florida's legislature created to move "unauthorized aliens" from the state using interest from federal COVID-relief money.

Congress passed the American Rescue Plan to stimulate the economy during the height of the pandemic. While the measure included provisions for unemployment benefits, rental assistance and even infrastructure improvements, critics have argued that the cash wasn't intended to transport migrants.

"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 other Treasury programs and operations for which we have responsibility," the Treasury Department's Delamar wrote in his letter. "We are also monitoring legislative and judicial challenges to the use of funds for this purpose; such developments may affect the scope and timing of our review."

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Michael Karlis

Michael Karlis is a Staff Writer at the San Antonio Current. He is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., whose work has been featured in Salon, Alternet, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Orlando Weekly, NewsBreak, 420 Magazine and Mexico Travel Today. He reports primarily on breaking news, politics...

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