Reviews | Ron DeSantis’ migrant stunt set to take another wrong turn
This question will probably be answered soon, now that Treasury Department Inspector General is investigating whether Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) improperly dipped into a fund created by the covid-19 rescue act of 2021 to help states recover from the pandemic when he ferried migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.
The flights – originating in Texas – were paid for by interest earned on that covid money. The state of Florida budgeted a total of $12 million of this interest for a migrant transport program, of which about $600,000 would have funded flights to Martha’s Vineyard. DeSantis threatened to pay for future flights with the remaining funds.
But now the Inspector General of the Treasury consider whether this use of covid-related funding for immigration purposes is inappropriate. Under federal law, abuse That means the state owes an equivalent amount to the federal government, according to the office of Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who requested the investigation.
All because DeSantis really wanted to catch up with fellow Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas, who is basking in the Fox News love for ferrying thousands of migrants to other liberal strongholds.
The the whole saga has turned into a total farce. The $12 million fund was specifically for transporting migrants “from this state,” which apparently required DeSantis to transport the migrants to Florida before traveling to Massachusetts. The program was the subject of a lawsuit alleging the migrants were misled into a show of slapstick antics.
The underlying rationale for the stunt was nonsense. The flights were meant to scrub the faces of liberals in the burden border states bear due to a supposedly permissive policy towards asylum seekers, but blue states are already home to a large proportion of migrants awaiting asylum. asylum hearings.
In short, DeSantis ‘owned the libs’ by redirecting covid money recovery to a policy a move that is entirely empty, has no real underlying justification, and was fabricated as a theater of cruelty for Fox News’ primary electorate.
Yet, it could get even more absurd. If the Inspector General of the Treasury discovered the expense is illegal, it could not only means the end of thefts, as Markey’s office notes, but also that this exercise in owning lib might end up owning Florida taxpayers instead.
Let’s say it happens. Would it hurt DeSantis politically? Probably not.
One of DeSantis’ main selling points for 2024 is that he is the perfect vehicle to co-opt the MAGA energies unleashed by Donald Trump. This waterfall reported to Republican voters that he would be as cruel as Trump to migrants. DeSantis has also has carefully shown its willingness to use state power to target other enemies of the left, such as “woke” corporations and teachers who say too much about sex and gender in the classroom.
Such displays also seem aimed at the GOP and conservative elites who are looking for someone to harness those energies without Trump. political self-sabotage. There’s an elite intellectual component to it, too: As Jonathan Chait reports, the most recent National Conservatism Conference showcased leading conservative thinkers springing from Governor DeSantis as a model for a future right-wing authoritarian presidency. .
Chait captures a defining moment from the conference, in which DeSantis chief propagandist Christina Pushaw describes the marginalization of independent media organizations as a crucial task ahead for this nascent authoritarian right, which involves destroying their reputation as a goal:
That reputation, she thinks, comes from the perception that they have access to both parties, so the right response from Republicans is to freeze mainstream media. “If they don’t have access to any elected Republican, they are seen for what they are,” she offered. Pushaw pointed out that Republicans shouldn’t even admit that reporters are journalists.
When DeSantis signed heavy state voting restrictions, he gave exclusive access at Fox News. And when those migrant planes landed at Martha’s Vineyard, video of the glorious event was quickly leaked to Fox, apparently by DeSantis staff.
DeSantis does this not only to pump this exciting content straight into the veins of the national GOP electorate, but also to send the message that he is forcefully marginalizing liberal media in the process.
Central to this policy is the description of all our institutions — the new the media, universities, our elections, the immigration bureaucracy, the “deep state” – as irreparably corrupted by leftism, justifying the use of expansive state power from the right in response.
So if DeSantis abused federal funds to portray migrants as just another sick person who would inevitably be hated wherever they were dropped off – and to provoke liberal outrage in response, regardless of whether the outrage was about how the immigrants were abused by DeSantis – Well, so what? Using pandemic money in a way that has upset a few sharp-headed federal bureaucrats just shows he’s willing to do what it takes to fight the enemy.
It seems very likely that if the Inspector General of the Treasury finds that federal dollars have been misused, DeSantis simply wear it as a badge of honor.