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A Florida state lawmaker is suing Governor Ron DeSantis and other state officials for orchestrating the transport of migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
State Senator Jason Pizzo, a Democrat who represents the Miami-Dade area, claims in a new lawsuit that relocating migrants from another state using Florida funds is an improper use of those funds and violates Florida laws. The lawsuit also asks a judge to stop these relocations.
“It’s very plain and simple,” Pizzo said in an interview, the Miami Herald reported. “The Governor has asked lawmakers to bring forward and pass bills designed to meet his agenda which he then signed into law. And even with this completely privileged position, he still cannot comply with the law. He made the rules of the game and then he can’t follow them.”
The Florida legislature previously approved $12 million in the state’s transportation budget to relocate migrants who entered Florida illegally. However, in the lawsuit, Pizzo, a lawyer, argues that DeSantis is not using these funds in the way they were appropriated because he moved migrants who are not “unauthorized aliens” and who do not weren’t originally in Florida.
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The two planes of 48 Venezuelan migrants were flown from San Antonio to the chic island of Massachusetts and only briefly landed in Florida.
Taryn Fenske, DeSantis’ communications director, dismissed the 15-page re-lawsuit and said Pizzo was simply looking for his “15 minutes of fame.”
“Senator Pizzo never misses a chance for his 15 minutes of fame and challenges an action on a credit he voted for,” Fenske told the outlet.
The lawsuit also names Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis as the Florida Department of Transportation and Jared Perdue as the department’s secretary.
In a statement to the newspaper, Patronis noted that Pizzo voted to pass the original $12 million appropriations bill and said DeSantis’ office was operating in accordance with it.
Devin Galletta, director of communications for the Florida Department of Financial Services, echoed that statement and also said his office was exploring options for a countersuit.
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“Senator Pizzo, along with Minority Leader Lauren Book, voted for the $12 million appropriation to relocate migrants,” Galletta wrote. “Now that the law they voted for is being implemented and shedding light on the border crisis, Pizzo and Book have gone to their same old playbook and hired a Democratic attorney to sue the executive branch for following the law. We have received the case and are currently exploring options for sanction and/or counter-suit action.”
The lawsuit comes after Lawyers for Civil Rights filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of illegal immigrants airlifted to Martha’s Vineyard.
The lawsuit alleges that DeSantis “conceived and executed a premeditated, fraudulent and unlawful scheme centered on the exploitation of this vulnerability for the sole purpose of advancing his own personal, financial and political interests.”
Gov. DeSantis’ spokeswoman Taryn Fenske called the class action lawsuit “political theater.”
“If these activists spent even a fraction of that time and effort at the border, perhaps some blame would be placed on the Biden administration’s reckless border policies that incentivize illegal immigrants to make dangerous and often deadly journeys across Central America and putting their lives at risk at the hands of cartels and coyotes,” Fenske said.
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She added: “The immigrants were homeless, starving and abandoned – and these activists didn’t care about them then. The Florida program gave them a fresh start in a sanctuary state and these people chose to take advantage of charter flights to Massachusetts.”
Some Democratic officials have also urged the federal government to investigate the transportation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.