Florida Democratic gubernatorial nominee Rep. Charlie Crist just revealed the company that his opponent Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, hired to smuggle 50 Venezuelan immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
Then he called out the right-wing Republican Governor’s political stunt of spending taxpayer dollars to traffic asylum seekers across state lines, which he bragged about to donors last week.
Crist posted a copy of an invoice paid on September 8th in the amount of $615,000 made payable from the Florida Department of Transportation to Vertol Systems Company— the only civilian aviation company using Russian helicopters.
The money was paid from the state’s general revenue fund and appropriated under the “relocation program of unauthorized aliens,” approved by the GOP-controlled legislature earlier in the year using interest from unspent funds sent by Biden’s American Rescue Plan last year.
It turns out that the cost to transport 50 men, women, and children via chartered aircraft from Texas to Massachusetts—is a whopping $12,300 per person.
The story continues below:
Ron won’t answer questions so we looked ourselves: FL paid Vertol Systems $615,000 on Sept 8th out of the $12m deportation fund.
So Floridians paid $12,300 for each refugee DeSantis trafficked for his own political purposes.
More to come. pic.twitter.com/4IqxD82whf
— Charlie Crist (@CharlieCrist) September 16, 2022
At a time when Florida is short over 9,000 teachers—low pay and poor working conditions are top complaints—the governor is using money that could be spent on health care, education, and infrastructure to chauffeur those fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries to transport them between other states.
While far-right political actors have defended DeSantis’ cruel and inhumane actions, the backlash may soon lead past the political into the criminal.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried already formally called for a Justice Department investigation into whether DeSantis violated human trafficking laws or violated the migrants’ civil rights.
The story continues below:
— Nikki Fried (@NikkiFried) September 15, 2022
Some of the migrants said in interviews they were promised jobs and housing and told they were being flown to Boston. In the state of Florida’s Freedom First Budget for 2022-2023, under “Immigration,” it states:
The Fiscal Year 2022-23 Budget creates a $12 million program within the Florida Department of Transportation to facilitate the transport of unauthorized aliens out of Florida.
The key phrase is “out of Florida.”
The $615,000 paid to VSC wasn’t for the “relocation” of migrants from the Sunshine State but to transport them from a state nearly 1000 miles away to Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview, Fl. and on to Martha’s Vineyard, Ma.
This is #CoyoteRon's Deputy Press Secretary.
He thinks the general appropriations bill below means FL Dems "voted for" DeSantis' human trafficking.
He won't admit the bill doesn't talk about using FL's money to relocate asylum seekers from Texas & dumping them in the street. https://t.co/Nl2pH32Edw
— Leia🌻 (@TheSWPrincess) September 16, 2022
Oregon-based aviation company Vertol has operations in Destin, FL, and specializes in military-style Russian helicopters for carrying troops and equipment.
Begging the question, why VSC? In 2004, the charter company filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Office after being denied a contract with the U.S. Army and Air Force to provide aircraft after the company failed to prove “airworthiness.” VSC argued that they shouldn’t be excluded prior to landing the contract for not being FAA certified and that the government should accept an “experimental certificate.”
The GAO sided with the U.S. Military, writing, “We find that the Army and Air Force reasonably determined that Vertols aircraft, whether possessing an experimental FAA airworthiness certification or no FAA airworthiness certification at all, could not satisfy the agencies’ requirements for demonstrated airworthiness.
Former Republican Florida Governor Charlie Crist is in a tight race with DeSantis and has plenty of ammo to keep the heat on.
With less than two months before the 2022 election, DeSantis will continue to be exposed for this week’s gruesome political stunt and apparent wasting of taxpayer dollars in the process.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick
Please consider supporting the fund. Thank you!