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Ron DeSantis Violated State Spending Law After Squandering State Money On His Flight

Waves to reporters in Miami on September 22, 2022. Ron DeSantis is the governor of Florida.

A Democrat in the Florida Senate has filed suit to prevent Gov. Ron DeSantis from arranging any additional flights with migrants bound for other states.

Miami Democratic Senator Jason Pizzo filed a complaint against the governor on Thursday, claiming that he broke the law by using $12 million allocated for migrant transport in this year’s state budget for other purposes.

Political gimmick opposing President Joe Biden‘s immigration policy, DeSantis claimed last week that he was responsible for chartering two flights to bring 48 Venezuelan migrants from San Antonio, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard.

Pizzo alleges in his lawsuit that DeSantis broke state law by using state funds for “the transport of unlawful aliens from this state consistent with federal law.” The flights took off from Texas and made a brief stop in the panhandle of Florida before continuing to Massachusetts.

The governor has claimed that many illegal immigrants end up making Florida their permanent home. According to Politico, the federal government sent 80 aircraft with migrants to Florida last year.

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Pizzo and the other state representatives and senators voted unanimously to approve Florida’s spending plan. Interest accrued on the funds given to Florida through Biden’s American Rescue Plan helped fund the program.

Taryn Fenske, DeSantis’ communications director, told Insider that Senator Pizzo “never misses an opportunity for his 15 minutes of glory” by trying to reverse action on an appropriation he supported.

There have now been two lawsuits filed because of the governor’s questionable acts. On September 20th, a civil rights organization located in Boston filed a lawsuit against DeSantis on behalf of a group of migrants and an immigration nonprofit network, claiming that the migrants were deceived into boarding the aircraft with false promises of jobs and other help.
Additionally, a Texas sheriff has initiated a criminal investigation, and numerous Democrats have demanded a DOJ probe.

Critics saw DeSantis’s activities as a cruel trick that mislead defenseless people trying to flee a totalitarian state. However, as the national discourse has moved to focus on immigration and border security in anticipation of the November elections, Republicans in Congress have embraced the topic.

The latest case is a 15-page document filed in Leon County, where Tallahassee, the state capital, is located. Pizzo initiated the legal action in his role as a citizen of the State of Florida.

The state spent $615,000 on transportation and lodging in Texas through air charter operator Vertol Systems Company, Inc., according to a screenshot of state budget statistics included in the lawsuit.

NBC News reported in 2017 that Vertol was represented in a legal case by Republican Florida Representative Matt Gaetz and Florida Safety Coordinator Larry Keefe.

A payment of $950,000 to Vertol Systems appears separately in the case, but its purpose is unclear.

According to the Miami Herald, on Tuesday, a flight that was supposed to take a group of Venezuelan refugees from San Antonio to Delaware was canceled. The DeSantis administration has not commented on the events of this week, but the governor has suggested publicly that he is considering sending flights to Delaware — Biden’s home state and where the president has a beach property.

Pizzo sued the Department of Transportation and its secretary, Jared Perdue, as well as Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis.

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