The country’s most prominent one-man Donald Trump tribute band shares his passion for violating the law:
The Ron DeSantis approach to governance is to feed a steady flow of chum to conservative media. His most recent such measure was a made-for-Fox gambit that involved transporting two planeloads of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard in a modern reverse Freedom Ride. But not only did Martha’s Vineyard’s residents greet the residents with love rather than the fear DeSantis hoped to provoke, it also seems probable he violated the law in order to pull it off.
There are two potential legal violations at play: lying to the migrants and misusing state funds. Begin with the lying.
One of the migrants told the Boston Globe, “There, a lady offered us three months of rent, work, and said they were going to put our papers in order.”
Yesterday, Javier Salazar, the sheriff of Bexar County in Texas, opened an investigation into whether any laws had been broken in luring the migrants onto the plane.
Of course, not every investigation leads to charges and not all charges lead to a conviction. DeSantis claims none of the migrants were promised jobs.
However, Judd Legum acquired a brochure given to the migrants, and it does promise “employment for refugees.” So either several migrants spontaneously spread the same lie upon their arrival at Martha’s Vineyard or DeSantis misled them and is lying about it.
Whether this all amounts to a crime is a matter for lawyers. But it certainly seems rather nasty.
The second alleged legal violation is that DeSantis misused state funds for his stunt. The charge — which, caveat emptor, comes from Democrats in the Florida legislature — is that DeSantis broke state law in two ways. First, the funds used for the flights were earmarked to “facilitate the transport of unauthorized aliens from this state consistent with federal law.” Finding migrants in Texas is not the same thing as transporting them from Florida.
And second, the law authorizes transportation of “unauthorized aliens,” but many of the people DeSantis lured onto the plane were asylum seekers. It’s not illegal to migrate to the United States and report to authorities seeking asylum. Indeed, when the refugees are coming from oppressive left-wing dictatorships such as Cuba or (in this case) Venezuela, Republicans used to regard them with sympathy.
Now, of course, like his mentor for the overwhelming majority of his life DeSantis exists in a social strata where the law doesn’t apply, so he won’t face any formal sanction for these actions. But it really puts his telling people he disenfranchised they could vote and then trying to lock them up when they tried to in the proper perspective.