- The U.S. Treasury told Sen. Ed Markey and six other members of Congress that it is auditing the state of Florida’s use of federal dollars to transport migrants from Texas to Massachusetts
- The state did not directly use federal COVID-19 funds, but state legislators earlier this year directed $12 million in interest earned off COVID-19 aid to be used to pay for the transport of unauthorized migrants, according to POLITICO Florida
- The Treasury will also monitor legislative and judicial challenges to the use of the funds for the way in which Florida is accused of using them
- The Office of the Governor told The Capitolist that it remained in contact with the Treasury to ensure that all spending was done so according to legal permissions
The federal Treasury told Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and six additional federal lawmakers that it is auditing and potentially investigating the state of Florida for its alleged use of COVID-19 relief dollars to fund migrant flights between Texas and Massachusetts.
A group of federal lawmakers, including Markey, wrote to the Office of the Inspector General in September regarding Florida’s alleged use of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund to transport migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.
Markey on Wednesday took to Twitter to state that the Treasury responded to the letter, confirming that it will investigate the way in which the state used COVID relief to transport individuals under false pretenses.
“I applaud the swift response from the Treasury’s Office of the Inspector General,” said Markey. “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.”
In its response to Markey, the Office of the Inspector General also said that it has already sought information from the state of Florida regarding appropriate use of the COVID recovery fund.
The Governor’s office, however, claims that everything has already been cleared with the Treasury.
“Weeks ago, the Office of Policy and Budget (OPB) spoke with the US Department of the Treasury’s (Treasury) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) about using interest gained from the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) program to transport illegal immigrants voluntarily to sanctuary jurisdictions,” said Communication Director Taryn Fenske. “As stated under the SLFRF Compliance Requirements, ‘the following provisions do not apply to the SLFRF program: 2 CFR § 200.305 (b)(8) and (9).’
“OPB articulated to Treasury’s OIG that our use of this interest, as appropriated by the Florida Legislature, is permissible under the SLFRF Final Rule. Reviews by Treasury are typical and, as stated by the OIG, are ‘part of its oversight responsibilities.’”
.@USTreasury responded to my letter, confirming that it will investigate @GovRonDeSantis' use of Covid relief funds to cruelly transport immigrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard under false pretenses and without any consideration for their personal dignity or basic needs. https://t.co/dJJllv9Piy
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) October 12, 2022
Further, the agency would “review the allowability” of COVID-19 aid to states “related to immigration generally, and will specifically confirm whether interest earned on funds was utilized by Florida related to immigration activities,” according to initial reporting by POLITICO Florida.
Last month, DeSantis used two charter flights to transport 50 migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard. The governor stated the action was meant to draw attention to President Joe Biden’s immigration policies.
POLITICO additionally reported that Florida did not directly use federal COVID-19 funds to transport the migrants, but state legislators earlier this year directed $12 million in interest earned off COVID-19 aid to be used to pay for the transport of unauthorized migrants.
The letter to Markey states that the Treasury intends to conduct its proceedings as quickly as possible while also monitoring legislative and judicial challenges to the use of the funds for the way in which DeSantis allegedly used them.