https://hotair.com/karen-townsend/2022/10/13/treasury-department-ig-opens-investigation-into-desantis-migrant-planes-n502915

Democrat lawmakers from Massachusetts requested that the Treasury Department open an investigation into Republican Governor Ron DeSantis for flying illegal migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. The question is whether or not DeSantis improperly used COVID-19 relief money to pay for the flights. Their request has been granted.

A letter was sent to Massachusetts’s Democrat congressional delegation by the Treasury Department that it plans “to get this work underway as soon as possible” on their request. The department is auditing how states used the billions of dollars in aid sent as part of the American Rescue Plan. Senator Ed Markey’s office confirmed receiving the letter to Politico.

In an Oct. 7 letter to Markey and five House members, Richard K. Delmar, deputy inspector general for the Treasury Department told the lawmakers that the agency would “review the allowability” of Covid-19 aid to states “related to immigration generally, and will specifically confirm whether interest earned on (the) funds was utilized by Florida related to immigration activities, and if so, what conditions and limitations apply to such use.”

A spokesperson for DeSantis responded that representatives of the governor’s budget office spoke with the inspector general’s office “weeks ago” about using interest earnings from the COVID-19 funds to pay for the transport program. Florida state officials say that the use of the money is permissible under the rules sent to states. Spokesperson Taryn Fenske said, “reviews by Treasury are typical and, as stated by the OIG, are ‘part of its oversight responsibilities.”

Financial oversight of the trillions of dollars released by the Biden administration since he took office is good. It is a little difficult, though, to think this particular investigation is just normal procedure. This is the Treasury Department looking into DeSantis because some partisan Democrats in Massachusetts asked the department to do it, even though the governor’s office received guidance, and apparently approval, to use interest earnings for immigration activities. It is hard to take the political implications out of the equation. Democrats are about to lose control of the House and maybe the Senate. They have to try and ding Republicans as much as possible as the midterm elections are less than a month away. Plus, there’s the possibility that DeSantis may run for president in 2024 and Democrats want to put a halt to that.

Last month, DeSantis used two charter flights to transport nearly 50 Venezuelan migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard, a move that sparked widespread outrage among Democrats. DeSantis contended the move was to draw attention to immigration policies of the administration of President Joe Biden, but Democrats accused the Florida governor of using vulnerable migrants in a political stunt. Biden called DeSantis’ flights “reckless” and several Democrats, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom, have called on the Justice Department to investigate DeSantis’ flights.

Several groups have filed legal challenges to stop Florida from facilitating more transports, and a Texas sheriff is currently probing the flights. But the Treasury letter marks the first time federal authorities have acknowledged they’re looking into the transports.

There hasn’t been a peep from any Democrats when DHS flies migrants into communities in the dead of night or unloads buses of them in smaller communities outside large cities. And, Democrats don’t seem to mind that the city of El Paso, Texas, has bused almost 9,000 illegal immigrants from the border to New York City and Chicago. The Democrat-run city has bussed more migrants out of El Paso than Governor Abbott has out of Texas. The city is working with FEMA for reimbursement of their costs. El Paso has been bussing migrants to NYC and Chicago since August.

The Florida Legislature directed funds to be used in migrant transport efforts. DeSantis’ actions weren’t just impulsive and reactionary to the Biden border crisis. There was a plan.

Florida did not directly use federal Covid-19 funds to transport the migrants. But state legislators earlier this year directed that $12 million in interest earned off Covid-19 aid be used to pay for the transport of “unauthorized aliens from this state.” So far, Florida paid a Panhandle-based company $1.56 million to fly migrants but DeSantis has vowed to continue transporting them to Blue strongholds.

Senator Markey, a far-left progressive, is pleased that Treasury is investigating DeSantis. Last month he asked Transportation Secretary Buttigieg to investigate whether DeSantis broke the department’s rules by allegedly misleading migrants to accept the transportation to a sanctuary city. Allegations of illegal migrants being tricked into accepting transportation away from the border have not been substantiated. The truth is that migrants sign forms before boarding buses or planes and declare their consent to travel. It’s a voluntary action.

There is no word of a timeline for the investigation into DeSantis.

The letter from Delmar does not provide any timeline for how long it would take for the inspector general’s office to review the spending by Florida, although it notes that auditors had “already sought information from Florida” about how it has spent Covid-19 aid. DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Legislature have used American Rescue Plan money on a wide array of programs, including bonuses for first responders and a month-long gas tax holiday.

“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,” states the letter from Delmar. “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.”

I haven’t noticed any reports about other investigations into how states spent funds from the American Rescue Act in the news. This investigation smacks of politics from another politicized federal agency.

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