Federal watchdog investigating DeSantis' transport of migrants
A federal watchdog has launched an investigation into Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' (R) transport of undocumented migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard.
Driving the news: DeSantis appears to have pulled "interest earned on his state’s federal coronavirus aid" to charter flights for the roughly 50 asylum seekers, the Washington Post reports. Several Democrats have since called on the Treasury Department to audit DeSantis for possible misuse of taxpayer money.
What they're saying: The Treasury Department's Office of Inspector General "has audit work planned on ... compliance with eligible use guidance," Deputy Inspector General Richard K. Delmar wrote in a letter to six lawmakers.
- "In addition, as part of our oversight work of the Coronavirus Relief Fund established by the CARES Act, we have already sought information from Florida about appropriate use of that fund."
- Delmar said his office is working to obtain more detailed analysis from the department on alleged immigration-related usage of the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund.
- "We plan to get this work underway as quickly as possible," he added. "We are also monitoring legislative and judicial challenges to the use of the funds for this purpose."
Worth noting: Florida set aside $12 million within the state's Department of Transportation to transport undocumented migrants, but the language used in the budget specifies that the money will help transport them out of Florida — not necessarily Texas.
The big picture: The migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard have filed a class action lawsuit against DeSantis and other Florida officials, alleging they lured them onto the flights with false promises of cash and job help.
- DeSantis, who has denied misleading the migrants, also faces other legal challenges in connection to the charter flights.
- Lawyers for the migrants and some state lawmakers have called on the Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation.
- DeSantis' office did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment. The OIG declined to comment.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional reporting.