The Treasury Department’s inspector general is examining Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ flights carrying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, including whether the Sunshine State improperly used Covid relief funds to transfer the migrants, according to a letter provided to Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey.
Last month, DeSantis claimed credit for a pair of flights carrying migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard. Two days after the flights, Markey, along with six other Massachusetts lawmakers, sent a letter to the Treasury Department’s watchdog requesting an investigation into the funds used to transport the migrants.
In response to the lawmakers’ request, Richard Delmar, the department’s deputy inspector general, confirmed that the watchdog’s office “has audit work planned” of Florida’s use of State and Local Fiscal Recovery funds, according to a letter dated October 7.
“We will review the allowability of use of SLFRF funds related to immigration generally, and will specifically confirm whether interest earned on SLFRF funds was utilized by Florida related to immigration activities, and if so, what conditions and limitations apply to such use,” the letter reads.
The Democratic senator applauded the department’s move, saying in a statement: “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.”
CNN previously reported that the flights may have exceeded the original scope of the state’s plan to transport undocumented individuals.
Records obtained by CNN showed that in the months leading up to those flights, Florida had planned a narrower mission for a controversial new state program to transport migrants to other states.
The goal, according to a callout to contractors and guidelines for the program, was to “relocate out of the state of Florida foreign nationals who are not lawfully present in the United States.”
But that’s not what transpired. On September 14, two planes picked up 48 migrants in San Antonio – not Florida – and dropped them off in Martha’s Vineyard, an island located off the coast of Massachusetts that has long been known as a posh summer destination for wealthy vacationers.
The decision by DeSantis to orchestrate the flights were part of his criticism of the federal government’s immigration and border security policies. Attorneys for the migrants have filed a class action lawsuit, saying they were misled in agreeing to the flights after being told they’d arrive to housing, jobs and help with the immigration process; no one on Martha’s Vineyard knew they were coming, local officials have said.