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Doesn’t Add Up

For Florida Republicans, the legislative session borrowed from an emotionally charged agenda set in part by Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential presidential candidate for 2024, here at a COVID-19 vaccination drive on Feb.... For Florida Republicans, the legislative session borrowed from an emotionally charged agenda set in part by Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential presidential candidate for 2024, here at a COVID-19 vaccination drive on Feb. 4, 2021, in Aventura, Florida. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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September 16, 2022 10:05 p.m.

Most of the news discussion about the DeSantis/Martha’s Vineyard saga appears to have moved on to chin-scratching pieces about what it all means or how the politics might shake out. That’s premature. The fact that DeSantis would pull a stunt like this is entirely unsurprising if also morally obscene. But if it was his work why did he fly migrants from Texas? There’s been no clear or really any explanation for why this would be the case. He’s vaguely suggested that he was flying them from Texas before they could come to Florida. But the details about how the migrants were found in San Antonio doesn’t suggest anything like that. DeSantis won’t discuss it.

It also seems clear that this wasn’t arranged by actual government employees. At a minimum it was delegated to private parties who quite possibly broke a few laws to do it. The woman “Perla” seems to have disappeared and gave one migrant a card with only her first name and a phone number. That’s not a government employee, at least not one working on the books.

Something’s amiss here. An independent publication called San Antonio Report has been publishing some of the clearest and most relevant detail about the story. A new piece from a few hours ago explains some details about the charter jet that ferried the migrants. It brings up another odd detail. The charter company is a luxury private jet company that normally caters to corporate executives and sports teams. Why that company? One possible clue is provided by the San Antonio Report article: Ultimate Air Shuttle flies frequently to Martha’s Vineyard. The planes used usually work the east coast, not Texas.

This afternoon a number of publications reported that a week ago Florida hired a Florida-based aviation company called Vertol Systems Company Inc to run its immigrant relocation program, making an initial payment of $615,000. Most of these publications have assumed that company ran the flights to Martha’s Vineyard. But that’s not the case. It was Ultimate Air, as we noted above. It’s possible that Vertol subcontracted the flights to Ultimate Air. But why? It has its own fleet of planes and Ultimate Air doesn’t usually operate those specific planes in Texas. And if it’s subcontracting, why would it do so to a company for high-end executive air travel?

Basically nothing about this story adds up. The details don’t make any sense. It looks like an off the books operation possibly funded by the state of Florida but maybe not? I can’t explain DeSantis would say if it’s his operation if it weren’t. And I’m not saying it’s not. But really, none of this adds up.

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