Using COVID relief funds, Ron DeSantis with Greg Abbott have achieved the ridiculous. The way to Delaware starts with an original flight plan to start in Texas, go to Florida, and then arrive in Delaware, only this time the same charter jet goes through Nashville and finally lands in New Jersey, still without passengers. Was it "Owning the libs" in its current form — i.e. blatant self-sabotage for dumb political reasons.
The small Delaware town of Rehoboth Beach, where President Joe Biden has a vacation home, scrambled Tuesday to prepare for the expected arrival of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ next round of expensive migrant flights—but the day only ended with more confusion in the Diamond State.
Instead, confusion swirled as the chartered plane that was scheduled to leave Texas on Tuesday morning, filled with migrants, departed hours late and bound for a different city—Nashville, Tennessee—with no passengers on board.
Delaware officials had sprung into action on Monday night after word got out that the same plane DeSantis used to fly migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard last week was listed on a public schedule to fly to Delaware, via Florida, on Tuesday morning. There was also a $950,000 payment made by Florida to Vertol Systems Company Inc, the same charter company that flew migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.
Public flight plans initially showed that the plane used to whisk migrants to Massachusetts was set to embark on a similar flight path Tuesday, departing from Texas, with a stopover in the Florida Panhandle before arriving in Georgetown—the closest airport to Rehoboth Beach, 19 miles away—at 1:30 p.m. ET Tuesday.
The flight was then delayed for unknown reasons before its route changed entirely. It departed for Nashville around 2:30 p.m. ET, where it reportedly landed without a single migrant on board 90 minutes later.
On Monday night, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) appeared on Fox News and defended his scheme to fly migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard. DeSantis said that the migrants' decision to participate in the trip was "voluntarily" and called any suggestion of impropriety "nonsense."
Is DeSantis telling the truth? That will now be determined in federal court.
On Tuesday, three of the migrants filed a class action lawsuit against DeSantis "in his official and personal capacity." The lawsuit also targets Jared Perdue, Secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation, and several yet-to-be-identified defendants who were in direct contact with the migrants.
The lawsuit alleges that DeSantis and his accomplices "executed a premeditated, fraudulent, and illegal scheme centered on exploiting [the migrants] for the sole purpose of advancing their own personal, financial, and political interests."
DeSantis and the Florida government have encountered intense backlash and legal scrutiny over the practices implemented to convince the migrants to sign onto the flights. On Tuesday, Lawyers for Civil Rights filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of three migrants who were potentially fraudulently lured into traveling to Martha’s Vineyard. Bexar County, Texas, Sheriff Javier Salazar has launched a criminal probe into the tactics used to lure the migrants onto the flight, and lawmakers in Massachusetts and across the U.S. are calling for Department of Justice investigations into the scheme.
DeSantis would like to play off as a “made you look” stunt that left migrants stranded in a La Quinta may have been a ploy to troll the media, but the flight’s cancelation may also been the result of a governor balking in the face of a political and legal hellstorm after allegedly misleading migrants in order to transport them to Martha’s Vineyard. DeSantis may not have “punked” the media so much as played himself.