The Treasury The department’s internal surveillance is investigating whether this is the case Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis improperly used federal pandemic aid to bring migrants to Martha’s Vineyard as part of his effort to “transport illegal immigrants to sanctuaries.”

At issue is whether millions of dollars in interest earned from state and local budget recovery funds paid out through the American Rescue Plan were used to facilitate the transport of about 50 Venezuelans from Texas to Massachusetts in mid-September, with a stop in Florida along the way.

The refund program has strict requirements for how the money can be spent. Florida officials paid Florida-based Vertol Systems Co. $1.56 million for a flight to Martha’s Vineyard and possibly a flight to President Joe Biden’s home state of Delaware, which never happened, documents show.

The Office of the Inspector General has scheduled a review of “recipients’ compliance with usage guidelines,” Treasury Deputy Inspector General Richard C. Delmar said in a letter to the senator. Ed MarkeyD-Mass., who requested the investigation.

“We plan to begin this work as soon as possible, consistent with our other oversight mandates and priorities,” the letter said. Treasury does not have a certified inspector general.

Markey wrote to the inspector general’s office in September, shortly after DeSantis organized the well-publicized trip. Florida’s governor said the migrants voluntarily went to Massachusetts.

“The use of federal COVID relief funds in this manner is contrary to the intent of Congress and appears to violate federal law,” Markey and six other Massachusetts lawmakers wrote in a Sept. 17 letter to Delmar. Markey said DeSantis is “effectively using COVID-19 relief to score political points by exploiting vulnerable immigrants.”

The White House called the trip to Martha’s Vineyard “a cruel, premeditated political stunt.”

Delmar did not say when the probe would be completed. Other law enforcement agencies across the US have also launched investigations into migrant trips organized by Republican lawmakers in Democratic strongholds.

The flight also spawned a Texas sheriff’s investigation and two lawsuits. The Treasury Department referred questions to the inspector general’s office, which did not respond to a request for comment.


Associated Press reporter Curt Anderson contributed to this report.