The office of inspector general is looking into Florida Governor Ron DeSantis about the contentious migrant trip to Martha’s Vineyard, according to recent confirmation from the Treasury Dept.
The Republican governor sparked controversy last month when he dispatched scores of migrants to Martha’s Island. DeSantis defended the trip despite accusations ranging from political theater to human smuggling, as the Biden admin falls short in its attempt to address the border problem.
What is happening?
In a letter dated Oct. 7 Richard Delmar, the Treasury Dept’s deputy inspector gen., stated that his office is looking into whether DeSantis inappropriately utilized COVID-19 epidemic relief money to pay for the migrant trip.
In the letter, Delmar clarified:
“The Treasury Office of Inspector General has planned audit work on beneficiaries’ compliance with eligible usage guidelines as part of its supervision duties for the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. Additionally, we have asked Florida for information regarding the proper use of that fund as part of our oversight work of the CARES Act’s Coronavirus Relief Fund.”
Delmar said, “We will examine the permissibility of use of SLFRF money linked to immigration generally, and will particularly confirm if interest earned on SLFRF money was utilized by Florida related to immigration efforts, and if so, what are the conditions and restrictions apply to such use.”
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and several state legislators from Massachusetts had already called for an investigation, prompting this one.
DeSantis is accused of paying for the migrant trip out of a $12 million account funded with interest from COVID-19 relief funding. Legislators in Florida created the account to “enable the movement of unlawful foreigners out of Florida.”
The COVID relief monies in question, according to the Washington Post, “came with few limits” and “the government imposed practically no rules on the interest earned on that money while it was unspent.”
How did people respond?
Markey praised the development and repeated unsubstantiated claims that immigrants were “lured” onboard the airplane “under false pretenses.”
He remarked, “I appreciate the Treasury’s Office of the Inspector General’s prompt response. Hope that this probe sheds light about whether Gov DeSantis abused money that was meant for COVID relief for Floridians for the purpose of the migrants who were persuaded onto chartered planes on false pretenses.”