Ron DeSantis Notified Of Treasury Department Investigation For Federal Violations


The inspector general overseeing the Treasury Department has confirmed ambitions to examine the financing for recent flights organized by the DeSantis administration taking dozens of vulnerable migrants from Texas to Massachusetts. (Republican Ron DeSantis is the controversial governor of Florida.) It’s the first confirmation of an investigation within the federal government.

The probe is tied to whether the DeSantis administration using interest derived from federal COVID-19 relief money for the trip is permissible. There are separate legal concerns about whether the DeSantis team’s actions abide by the standards set in the state of Florida for the use of the money. It was specified the $12 million from which the governor’s team apparently drew would financially support transporting migrants from the state of Florida — and Texas obviously isn’t Florida. DeSantis raised the prospect of the targeted migrants eventually arriving in Florida, but again, Texas isn’t Florida! More generally, there are also serious worries about the DeSantis team’s efforts in terms of their impacts on human rights. The highly scrutinized trip from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, was voluntary, but available info indicates that migrants on the flights were deceived with false promises of assistance with employment and housing, and the eventual destination of the journey was initially obscured.

A Spanish translation on a signed consent form released by the DeSantis administration didn’t even mention Massachusetts by name. As for the federal probe, the inspector general’s office at the Treasury Department confirmed an inquiry in a letter to members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, who previously raised concerns about possible violations of federal rules against deception in the organization of charter flights.

“Regarding the [State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF)], we are seeking, from its program officials in the Department, more detailed analysis of the guidance they have issued. 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 new letter said. “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.”

The letter was signed by Richard Delmar, a deputy in the inspector general’s office. Meanwhile, DeSantis is running for re-election, and his success or lack thereof in the race could affect his prospects in the next Republican presidential primary, for which he has been floated as a potential contender. It’s worth noting migrants lured by the DeSantis team to Massachusetts, where the governor’s staff didn’t provide local officials with any advance notice, included individuals evidently legally allowed to be in the country while pursuing asylum protections from the government.