Documents – GNT NEWS

Documents released Friday night by the Florida Department of Transportation indicate the state could send migrants to Delaware and Illinois next.

The owner of Vertol Systems, a flight contractor, wrote to state officials on Sept. 15 that from Sept. 19 to Oct. 3 he would fly 50 people to Delaware for $425,000 and 50 people to Illinois for $525,000.

Just a day earlier, the first flight of 48 migrants, mostly from Venezuela, had arrived in Martha’s Vineyard to much attention and media coverage.

Some major Democratic donors and politicians, including former President Barack Obama, have homes on Martha’s Vineyard.

Gov. Ron DeSantis took credit for using Florida’s $12 million program to move migrants from the San Antonio area to Massachusetts. He told reporters afterward that the goal of the program was to draw attention to the issue of immigration and to get northern democracies to help with the large number of migrants crossing into the country.

The second and third projects have not yet been implemented.

In another document released Friday, James Montgomerie, owner of Vertol Systems, wrote to state officials on Oct. 8 that he would extend the flight timeline to Dec. 1.

The second and third projects cost the state $950,000. According to the database of government contractors, payment has already been made.

NBC 6 has reached out to Montgomery for more information, but has not yet heard back.

Florida state lawmakers approved a $12 million program, paid for with interest collected on federal tax dollars sent to Florida in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, the state has paid $1.5 million of the $12 million.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of the Inspector General began an investigation into whether federal dollars were used properly. The communications director for DeSantis’ office maintains that federal rules allow the program.

However, state law and FDOT guidelines released to NBC 6 through a public records request state how the program was required to find migrants in the state of Florida. State Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-Miami, filed a lawsuit against DeSantis and other state officials alleging they violated those directives as the first group of migrants was relocated from Texas.

DeSantis’ office criticized the lawsuit, saying Sen. Pizzo “…challenges an appropriations action he voted for.”

The latest documents released by the Florida Department of Transportation also say the contractor will find people in the state of Florida for projects that include Delaware and Illinois.

In several news conferences last month, DeSantis defended the program and said the flights would continue in response to the Biden administration’s reversal of the “remain in Mexico” policy and relocation of migrants across the country earlier this year.

“No one really cared about it from a national media perspective until the 50 showed up in Martha’s Vineyard,” DeSantis said. “You have to wonder about this, why is it such a big deal, but it wasn’t a big deal when about 50 migrants died in some shed in Texas.”

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