President Joe Biden's Treasury Department is investigating if Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis misused COVID-19 relief funds to transport migrants to Martha's Vineyard.
The office of Treasury's inspector general confirmed to several members of Massachusetts' Democrat congressional delegation that it planned to probe Florida's spending and "to get this work underway as soon as possible," Politico reported.
Deputy Inspector General Richard K. Delmar, in a Oct. 7 letter to Markey and five House members, said the IG's office would investigate how states have used the billions sent to them as part of the COVID-19 stimulus plan.
Politico reported that although Florida did not directly use federal COVID-19 relief funds to transport the migrants, state legislators had directed that $12 million in interest earned off coronavirus aid be used to pay for the transport of "unauthorized aliens from this state."
Delmar said 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."
Markey late last month asked Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to investigate whether DeSantis' migrant charter flights broke the department's rules.
DeSantis, a Republican, last month sent two flights of illegal immigrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard in the latest move to get Democrat-run areas away from the southern border to bear some responsibility for Biden's "open border policies."
Several groups have filed legal challenges to stop Florida from facilitating more transports, and a Texas sheriff is currently probing the flights, Politico said.
Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Doug Ducey of Arizona, both Republicans, also have transported migrants to Democrat-controlled areas in protest of Biden's inadequate policing of the U.S.-Mexico border.
DeSantis and Florida's GOP-controlled Legislature have used COVID-19 stimulus money on various programs, including bonuses for first responders and a month-long gas tax holiday, Politico 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," Delmar said in his letter.
"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 inspector general, a position that currently is vacant, reports to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
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