Airline Used For Migrant Flights Contributed To DeSantis Allies

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The transportation company that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis used to arrange flights for migrants to Martha’s Vineyard has contributed money to the governor’s key allies and has connections to a Florida official responsible for current immigration policy.

Vertol Systems Inc, an Oregon-based airline company that used DeSantis to fly asylum seekers to the affluent, liberal-oriented island of Massachusetts, has connections with DeSantis’ political allies and has donated money to several campaigns, NBC News reported.

The company once had legal representation from Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, who was previously part of DeSantis’ transition team when he became governor, and Gaetz’s former law partner, Larry Keefe, who now works as the state’s “public safety czar.” and the controversial relocation program, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Keefe has represented Vertol in dozens of lawsuits between 2010 and 2017, the Times reports.

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Florida State Representative Jay Trumbull Jr, a Republican who chaired the credit committee involved in securing funding for the relocation program, received a $1,000 donation from Vertol this year during his Florida state senate campaign. , reported the Intercept.

The company also donated a total of more than $12,000 to various Florida political campaigns, including $2,500 to a super Pac supporting Gaetz.

The DeSantis administration has consistently refused to release any information about money the Vertol has given for its role in rehoming asylum seekers.

So far, the company has been awarded a $12 million contract and has received more than $1 million from Florida to fly asylum seekers to Democrat-run northern cities, NBC News reported, including migrants residing in other states.

Public records have confirmed that Florida paid $615,000 to Vertol last week to recruit about 50 Venezuelan migrants in Texas and fly them to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, with authorities noting that many migrants were misled under the guise of receiving funds for relocation, such as cash and job training, while no arrangement was made with the island.

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The chartered flights are currently the subject of a criminal investigation in Texas, as well as a civil suit from the asylum seekers themselves who say they have been misled into going.

The company was also scheduled to fly another group of asylum seekers to an airport near Joe Biden’s beach house in Delaware on Tuesday, but the charter flight never arrived, although Florida gave Vertol an additional $950,000.

As a result, 20 migrants hoping to travel to the state were stranded in San Antonio, the Miami Herald reported, with a source familiar with the governor’s thoughts telling NBC News that the governor was purposely leaving people in the dark. about the flight plans.

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The DeSantis administration did not release details of the contract it awarded to Vertol, or disclose why Vertol was selected to run the relocation program, or answer questions about whether multiple bids had been submitted in relation to the program, as required by law, reported the times.

While DeSantis has defended the program, his administration has faced strong criticism that they lacked budgetary authority to fly asylum seekers, Politico and Florida lawmakers said, who questioned whether the flights were legal.

Lawyers representing the migrants have also argued that their clients are not “unauthorized aliens” but asylum seekers, which is a separate legal category.

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