Where’s the Money, Ron?

OCALA, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - 2022/05/06: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis reacts at a press conference at Sam’s Club in Ocala, where he signed into law more than $1.2 billion in tax relief for Floridians, the la... OCALA, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - 2022/05/06: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis reacts at a press conference at Sam’s Club in Ocala, where he signed into law more than $1.2 billion in tax relief for Floridians, the largest tax relief package in Florida’s history. In an effort to combat inflation, taxes will be eliminated for varying periods of time on goods including fuel, children’s books, diapers, and home improvement items. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) MORE LESS

We’ve discussed this before. But The Miami Herald now fleshes out the story. When Ron DeSantis’s administration hired Vertol Systems, a defense contractor, to run its migrant flights program, Vertol insisted on being paid up front for a package deal. That’s not how Florida works with contractors. But Vertol insisted and eventually the politicals in DeSantis’s administration overruled the state employees who manage payments to contractors. (It seems likely that that was done by the appointee running the program, Larry Keefe, who recommended Vetrol and used to be the company’s lawyer.)

Vertol got a payment of more than $1.5 million which was supposed to be for at least three separate migrant flight projects. But after the Martha’s Vineyard operation blew up in controversy and spurred a criminal investigation in Texas the other projects were cancelled or at least indefinitely postponed. But Vertol had been paid in advance and hasn’t seemed interested in paying the rest of the money back. Indeed, after Florida paid an initial payment of roughly $600,000 they followed up with another advance payment of roughly $900,000, entirely for flights that never happened. And that second payment happened after the blow up.

According to documents reviewed by The Herald, Vertol likely spent less than $200,000 on the migrant-bamboozling flights to Martha’s Vineyard. So at least for now they’ve cleared between $1.3 and $1.4 million in profit on the deal.

It’s certainly possible that those other operations might happen. But for now Vertol is sitting on the money and a very tidy profit.

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