I want to know who funded the kidnapping


Prime suspect: this thug

As I’m sure you’ve already heard, Venezuelan migrants in Florida were rounded up an induced to take planes to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, as part of badly aimed right-wing scandal mongering. The conservatives were using these people as pawns to trigger some hypocritical liberal response (which they didn’t get — right-wingers lack the empathy required to understand that liberal perspective, so they constantly miss the mark), so they fucked around and are about to find out.

A group of Venezuelan migrants who were flown from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard last week — allegedly after being falsely promised work and other services — have filed a class-action lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and other officials who arranged the flights, saying the officials used fraud and misrepresentation to persuade them to travel across state lines.

One question keeps bouncing around in my head about this story, and I’m not seeing it answered. They made up a professional-looking, shiny brochure, purportedly listing “Massachusetts Refugee Benefits”. They chartered two planes for a 1300 mile, 6 hour flight. They gave them gift cards to trick them into boarding.

In his interview with Hannity, DeSantis said that the migrants “all signed consent forms to go.” But the lawsuit alleges that migrants suffering from food insecurity were pressured “to sign a document in order to receive a $10 McDonald’s gift card.”

That all adds up to a substantial bill.

Who paid for it?

Did this come out of the state budget for Florida, or did some wealthy donor hand the perpetrators a bucket of money? Somebody had to fork over the cash for this kidnapping scheme, and it had to have been premeditated, planned without anyone considering the ethics of their crime, which, to be honest, is typical of conservative planning and doesn’t narrow the field of suspects very much.

I’m sure someone has remembered the principle of “follow the money,” I’m just not seeing much discussion in the news about it yet. I’ll be looking forward to the inevitable revelations that the lawsuit will smoke out.

Comments

  1. Louis says

    IANAL of any kind, aren’t there some laws in the US about transporting people across state lines under duress/for immoral purposes?

    Do they exist in the vague sense I am thinking of and would they apply?

    Louis

  2. nomadiq says

    It seems the immigrants were lied to, and if true are the victims of a crime, the crime of people trafficking. This is no joke. Interestingly I have seen reporting that suggests that victims of people trafficking can have their immigration status updated to ‘legal’ rapidly in those circumstances so it seems De Santis may have paid (or arranged it) for these immigrants to become legal residents. Good job! I also believe the local sheriff from the district in Texas the immigrants were taken from has launched an investigation (he is an elected sheriff and a democrat).

    On a side note, does anyone see the hypocrisy of trafficking Venezuelan immigrants, fleeing ‘communist’ Venezuela for a better life, treating them as garbage while Cuban immigrants (nudge nudge – Florida – nudge) basically have the red carpet rolled out for them when they arrive? I guess you can’t pull a stunt on Cubans in Florida like you can on Venezuelans… because… reasons.

  3. ardipithecus says

    Apparently, De Santis is now under investigation for misappropriation of state funds, as the $615,000 for the operation (paid to a private company) came from an allocation of $12 million for transporting people illegally in Florida, not people legally in Texas.

  4. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 3

    I can only assume that a significant chunk of the Cuban “exiles” were wealthy plantation and sugar mill owners who bought into the Florida political machine to establish a victim narrative. The Venezuelans likely don’t have those sort of political connections and their utility to right-wing anti-Marxist bullshit is short lived as they become retasked as pariahs for the xenophobes.

  5. raven says

    I keep thinking this stunt must somehow be illegal but not how it is illegal.
    It could be construed as human trafficking though.

    What DeSantis is actually doing is waging war on the Northern Democratic states.
    Not a shooting war but he is clearly trying to start a fight and cause harm to Northern states.

    He isn’t solving any sort of problem, he is actively trying to cause problems.
    It is the usual Red state ideology, the cruelty isn’t a side effect, it is the whole point.

  6. whywhywhy says

    It is almost like the Qanon folks are correct about a cabal of connected politicians involved in human trafficking. They of course are accusing the wrong people….

    Or simply a case of falsely accusing others of what oneself is guilty.

  7. hemidactylus says

    From the libertarian budget hawks at Reason:
    https://reason.com/2022/09/19/spending-down-12-million-in-pandemic-relief-money-on-an-immigration-stunt-isnt-responsible-fiscal-policy/

    Desantis has a war chest: “Judging by DeSantis’ recent comments, that money is still being spent. “The legislature gave me $12 million,” DeSantis said at a news conference on Friday. “We’re going to spend every penny of that to make sure that we’re protecting the people of the state of Florida.”

    According to the 2022–2023 spending bill, the $12 million pot comes from “the interest earnings associated with the federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund.” Part of the American Rescue Plan—a $1.9 trillion package passed last year against unanimous GOP opposition—set aside about $350 billion as relief cash for states and localities. The federal government attached few strings to how state and local governments spent the interest earned on those funds while they remained unspent.”

    […]

    “ Moral, legal, and economic concerns all linger, as DeSantis says there will likely be more migrants bused and flown to blue cities. Since immigrants contribute significantly to public finances through taxes, are less likely to use welfare than similarly situated native-born Americans, and are able to fill critical jobs, a fiscally responsible governor would be wise to drop the costly enforcement stunts.”

    A governor who helped COVID kill over 80,000 of his citizens cynically coopts COVID relief funds toward owning the libs?

    And I wonder where this idea of relocating the unwanted to liberal bastions originated (time jump several decades): https://apnews.com/article/c0ba215aea9a974644825bccbefee12d

    1989: “Hoards of homeless won’t be dispatched in bus loads to this celebrity beach retreat in spite of actor Martin Sheen’s official welcome for them in his capacity as honorary mayor.

    ″There will not be any buses. Things have spiraled to such a degree they are out of my control,″ Rush Limbaugh, a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who had threatened to organize a homeless ″March on Malibu,″ said Wednesday.”

    Sick humor. Sowing chaos. Schadenfreude. Inflicting cruelty for sport. You name it.

    Desantis would have enjoyed bipartisan support if he had spun the Venezuelans as refugees from evil leftism who are welcome in the Free State of Florida. It’s not about anticommunist consistency but instead channeling Nazi reject political philosopher Carl Schmitt by clearly identifying enemies and defeating them at all costs (eg- Stop WOKE). It stokes ones own identity politics (see for example the daily WEIT discourse).

    Also the migrant crisis may be an example of Schmitt’s “exception” where the sovereign is warranted in stepping outside the normative bounds popularly called “rule of law”. There seems to be quite a bit of that exceptionalism going on with the MAGA right these days.

  8. hemidactylus says

    @5- Akira MacKenzie

    I would hope this stunt would cross a line of offensiveness for enough Cuban exilios to make a difference in Desantis v Crist.

    There may be significant differences in the Cuban migrant waves. There had been long standing communities in Florida before Castro. See Ybor city and greater Tampa.

    With the Castro revolution may have come the more affluent migrants who lost more. The Mariel boatlift may have been quite different in demographics.

    Nicaraguans in Miami (Sweetwater as “Little Managua”) were similarly situated as are Venezuelans now. Cubans are dominant and best known.

    What is often lost in the discourse are the reasons Guatemalans and Hondurans try to come to the US. We broke their countries with Monroe Doctrine Cold War realpolitik.

  9. hemidactylus says

    @5- Akira MacKenzie

    The Cubans who came after the revolution were affluent. The Mariel boatlift may have been different. Nicaraguan migrants are lesser known and similarly situated to Cubans and Venezuelans per motives.

    What is often lost in the discourse are reasons why Hondurans and Guatemalans try to migrate here. We broke their countries with Cold War realpolitik.

  10. microraptor says

    And, of course, the thing that conservatives and the media especially aren’t pointing out is that the violence and political instability that these refugees are fleeing is in large part caused by decades of US policies of disrupting the governments in Central and South America.

  11. birgerjohansson says

    Guatemala suffered a bona fide genocide in the 1980s under a lifetime oresident-general that was -what else- friends with Reagan.

  12. birgerjohansson says

    Florida governors.
    You may recall Dubya’s brorher, who was only slightly corrupt ( he wanted to give public money to private schools).
    The they got Rick Scott aka Skeletor.
    Now they have “all schools want to make kids gay” DeSantis.

  13. Artor says

    Weirdly, these Venezuelans never set foot in Florida. They had sought asylum in Texas, and somehow got roped into this scam. Hopefully Hot Wheels Abbot gets caught in the prosecution’s net too.

  14. Ridana says

    Martha’s Vineyard is in Massachusetts, not New York.

    Ianal, but it’s not trafficking if you’re not sending them to make money off their labor. It may well be human smuggling though, and perhaps kidnapping, and those are also illegal, but with different penalties.

    Human trafficking involves exploiting men, women, or children for the purposes of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation. Human smuggling involves the provision of a service—typically, transportation or fraudulent documents—to an individual who voluntarily seeks to gain illegal entry into a foreign country.

    Human Smuggling is defined as the importation of people into the United States involving deliberate evasion of immigration laws. This offense includes bringing illegal aliens into the United States as well as the unlawful transportation and harboring of aliens already in the United States. (italics added)

    https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Report/2017/CSReport-13-1.pdf

    Since these people were already in the country legally, I don’t know how that affects what the charges would be.

  15. birgerjohansson says

    They deliberately lied about which agency the refugees should report their new adresses to, för the purposes of sabotaging their chances of staying in the country. That must be malicious intent for something, but I don’t know Merican laws.

  16. drew says

    Actually, there is some pretty serious liberal egg on face. A couple thousand refugees to NY, a “sanctuary city,” and they balked at providing sanctuary. 50 refugees to Martha’s Vinyard and there the libs complained about not having enough resources or housing. In Martha’s Vinyard, summertime playground of the elite (hi, Obama!).

    Yes, it was awful to ship people there just to make a point. But it made a point. And everyone who’s not a liberal can see it.

  17. Doc Bill says

    The GOPQ lie so much and so openly that they now believe their lies and that they are invincible. Until the DOJ gets serious about misuse of campaign money and go after the donors who fund these illegal activities, it will continue. Abbott spends taxpayer money in Texas like water for his own pet projects, but the indicted Attorney General isn’t going to do anything, nor is the bootlicking legislature. So, Hot Wheels Limp Biscuit gets away with it.

    IANAL, either, but kidnapping doesn’t require a sack over your head and tossed into a van. Fraud can be an element of kidnapping even if the victim isn’t physically threatened.

    However, Irony does raise her lovely head in this case. Mass. has a law protecting migrants from deportation if they are the victim of a crime. Thus, DeathSantis inadvertently threw Br’er Fox into the briar patch!

  18. brightmoon says

    The south used to do this to Black people. Promise then jobs and housing if they moved up North . Then break the promises after giving them one way tickets . When they get up here they’d have nothing arranged: no food , no housing , no job. Doesn’t surprise me in the least that the south tried this again

  19. Doc Bill says

    @Drew 17

    Totally wrong. The state of Mass. arranged transportation from Martha’s Vineyard to facilities on the mainland where the migrants are now housed, receiving medical and legal services, getting their visa situation sorted out. They’re getting exactly the services and care they needed, just as if they had been delivered to Boston as promised. It should also be noted that the “crisis” that DeathSantis hoped to cause never happened, and the GOPQ videographer they sent on the trip to document the expected fiasco got nothing but happy footage, that we’ll never see. The residents of the island turned out in droves to care for their fellow human beings, unlike the GOPQ who treated them worse than cattle.

  20. lotharloo says

    @8:
    The readers of reason.com don’t agree with the comments and seem to fully support Desantis based on the comments.

  21. brightmoon says

    OT New York sued Dolt45 and his family for tax fraud . If he’s found guilty of a felony he can’t be president any more.

  22. brightmoon says

    OT New York sued Dolt45 and his family for tax fraud . If he’s found guilty of a felony he can’t be president any more.

  23. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    @18 I believe the legal term in lying to people that you kidnap and transport across state lines is ‘inveigle’

  24. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    @24 I wish that were true, but President of the USA has some of least strict job requirements out there. Natural born. Over 35. I don’t think there are any others. Other political posts maybe, but technically because it didn’t occur to the founding fathers that it needed to be said ‘not an actual felon’ didn’t appear in the list of requirements.

  25. says

    “Who paid for it?”
    Well the state of Florida paid for it, and it was a company in Portland, OR adjacent Hillsboro that did the deed.
    https://www.wweek.com/news/courts/2022/09/16/florida-gov-ron-desantis-hired-hillsboro-company-to-ferry-migrants-to-marthas-vineyard/
    Our local activists are wetting their blades and getting the molotovs ready. We won’t stand for this in OUR HOME. You assist in victimization of people who have already gone through hell just to stay alive. Then use them as a prop in some BS political melodrama. These people need to know that they are NOT WELCOME HERE.

  26. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 21

    Having passed through libertarianism during my journey from right to left, I recall that most (?) libertarians I communicated with had no problem with immigration and even spoke of open borders. However, after 9/11 and Obama, I noticed that the so called members of “The Party of Principle” become more and more racist and xenophobic. I imagine there are very, very few pro-immigration libertarians left.

  27. jenorafeuer says

    Akira MacKenzie@5:
    Pretty close. A lot of the original Cuban ‘refugees’ in Florida are going to be the families of the people who actively supported the the U.S. backed Batista regime in the 1950s, and who lost a lot of what they had when Castro nationalized most of the U.S.-owned infrastructure after the Cuban Revolution. Not necessarily sugar mills and plantations so much as the people who owned all the big tourist trap hotels and the like, but similar concept. They were the capitalist collaborators who lost out when the locals took back what had been taken from them.

    It shouldn’t be a surprise that there’s a lot of overlap with the more Randian libertarians, given that Ayn Rand herself was in a similar situation: her father’s business was confiscated during the Russian/October Revolution, and she never forgave the Communists for that.

  28. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 30

    Of course, at virtually no point do right-wingers ever consider WHY Cuba, Russia, China, etc. rebelled and looked into communism in first place. If any do, they usually blame the JEWWWWWWWWS.

  29. Akira MacKenzie says

    What is often lost in the discourse are reasons why Hondurans and Guatemalans try to migrate here. We broke their countries with Cold War realpolitik.

    Of course we don’t. Even if we did admit it, we’d probably hear from the usual suspect why it was justified, be it in the name of “fighting communism” or the drug war.

  30. whywhywhy says

    #17
    You may want to question the veracity of the source of where you get your information. Only sources I could find that come close to your description were obvious right wing outlets, that cherry pick data to tell the story they want rather than what is actually happening. The locals stepped up and took care of the folks until the state stepped in to provide the types of services the folks needed.

  31. whywhywhy says

    Today’s libertarians are simply Republicans that want to smoke weed and sleep in on Sundays.

    For example a true libertarian is for removing limitations on what can be in a contract. Thus they should be against “Right to Work” laws which function be limiting what can be in a contract. However, I have yet to meet a self-declared libertarian who is against “Right to Work” laws.

  32. R. L. Foster says

    I suggest DeSantis and his ilk watch Ken Burns’ newest production, The United States and The Holocaust. They’ll see that they are simply the most recent iteration of White, Christian America’s long held anti-immigrant hatred. Back then it was the Jews we wouldn’t let in, for mostly anti-antisemitic reasons. Now, what’s the reason? Prejudice against brown skinned immigrants desperate to get away from repressive governments, economic hardship, violence and intolerance. Nothing much has changed with in a 100 years.

  33. R. L. Foster says

    I suggest DeSantis and his ilk watch Ken Burns’ newest production, The United States and The Holocaust. They’ll see that they are simply the most recent iteration of White, Christian America’s long held anti-immigrant hatred. Back then it was the Jews we wouldn’t let in, for mostly anti-antisemitic reasons. Now, what’s the reason? Prejudice against brown skinned immigrants desperate to get away from repressive governments, economic hardship, violence and intolerance. Nothing much has changed in a 100 years.

  34. whheydt says

    Re: brightmoon @ #23/24…
    The NY AG has filed a civil suit against various Trumps and their organizations Losing a civil suit doesn’t make you a felon. That she is referring some of her finding to various bodies that may file criminal charges, might do so, though.

  35. says

    From the libertarian budget hawks at Reason: …Desantis has a war chest: “Judging by DeSantis’ recent comments, that money is still being spent. “The legislature gave me $12 million,” DeSantis said at a news conference on Friday. “We’re going to spend every penny of that to make sure that we’re protecting the people of the state of Florida.”

    So…did those libertarian budget hawks at Reason support spending that money on pandemic-response policies?

    Oh, and which party did they support in Florida’s elections?

  36. says

    @29: Libertarians have and have always had a huge racist and xenophobic streak. They only favor open borders because, as the above-cited article mentions, immigrant labor is “good for the economy,” in the sense that the immigrants don’t take as much out of our economy as resident workers (because they’re less able to get government benefits or assistance), and it drives down wages so the rest of us who “belong” here can buy things at lower prices, as is our Invisible-Hand-Given Birthright.

  37. silvrhalide says

    @8 The money that DeSantis spent was not STATE money, it was FEDERAL money from ARPA, which means that it is designated money. You CAN’T just use it for anything, regardless of what Florida’s peabrained governor thinks. Misusing/misappropriating federal funds is a FEDERAL CRIME.
    “The Washington Post revealed the full scope of the budgetary maneuvering in Texas as part of a year-long series, the Covid Money Trail, that tracks the roughly $5 trillion in federal aid adopted since the start of the pandemic. The initial report soon prompted a federal inspector general to probe the state’s conduct.”
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/09/16/florida-migrant-immigration-stimulus-aid/
    I’d like to point out that while the Attorney General’s office investigates federal crimes, it’s the IRS that investigates tax fraud and other tax-related crimes. The IRS has its own criminal investigation unit and its own legal department.

    @17 NOPE.
    NYC is still a sanctuary city. And it’s still accepting migrants off the bus.
    https://abc7ny.com/nyc-immigration-mayor-eric-adams-migration-crisis-asylum-seekers/12242578/

    https://abc7ny.com/nyc-asylum-seekers-migrants-port-authority-bus-terminal/12227698/

    The real problem is that the shelters are already at their breaking point b/c NY released a lot of low-risk prisoners during the early days of the pandemic, so they wouldn’t die of Covid 19 in the prison system. (No way to socially-distance in the prison system, which is already crowded.) So most of them wound up in homeless shelters.

    @3 Nothing funnier than watching two Cubans argue over who hates Mexicans more.
    https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/commentary/ct-ted-cruz-marco-rubio-immigration-debate-20151216-story.html

    and then they start screaming at each other in Spanish. Outstanding. /s

    @37 The first two parts have been incredible.

    @32 Because well-heeled extra-special friends of the US government. The “stomp out communism” thing was a fig leaf. If communists wanted to take over Tierra Del Fuego instead, no one would have cared. And Honduras is the catspaw against Nicaragua.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Fruit_Company
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/daily/march99/guatemala11.htm
    https://library.brown.edu/create/modernlatinamerica/chapters/chapter-16-latin-america-in-the-world-arena-1990s-present/honduras-a-country-and-a-coup/
    And let’s not overlook the effect that the Dept. of Agriculture’s policies–and exceptionally generous tax credits, farm subsidies, crop insurance and federal loans have had on destroying the local corn markets worldwide. Corn farmers have made approximately 150% of their costs back on corn before they plant the first kernel, thanks to the generosity of the US federal government. It’s why corn and corn derivatives are in practically everything. There’s literally no way any other country could compete with that–they don’t have the money or the climate that the US does. Sure, you can grow corn in Central America or Africa (if there’s no drought, anyway) but even at the cost of importation, American corn is still cheaper than local corn. It’s why there were global food shortages worldwide when the US started putting ethanol in gasoline–there was so much more corn farming that wheat farming suffered by comparison, which raised the cost of wheat & bread. Because that’s what market forces do.

  38. chrislawson says

    You know, drew, your long comment history here had always raised suspicions, so it’s kind of you to confirm that you are an inhumane right-wing troll who only hangs out on liberal sites to spread bullshit exculpations for illegal Republican brutalities.

  39. John Morales says

    birgerjohansson, well, you sucked me in.
    I wondered what an ageing musician had to say about the political climate, and got a music video instead. From 2002.

    (Sheesh!)

    Won’t happen again.

  40. StevoR says

    @31. Akira MacKenzie

    @ 30 Of course, at virtually no point do right-wingers ever consider WHY Cuba, Russia, China, etc. rebelled and looked into communism in first place. If any do, they usually blame the JEWWWWWWWWS,.

    Think any of them ever think back to what caused the French Revolution of 1789?

  41. birgerjohansson says

    John Morales @ 45
    Do you think Tom Waits is too optimistic and cheerful to fit into the zeigeist?
    I wonder if we can get a singer to make songs of Schopenhauer’s writings.

  42. StevoR says

    @ 39. whheydt : News article here with the latest on the many Trump legal cases :

    Mr Trump also faces a criminal investigation in Georgia over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, for which he has denied wrongdoing.

    Plus, the probe conducted by New York Attorney General Letitia James is separate from a criminal tax fraud probe against the Trump Organization by Manhattan’s district-attorney, Alvin Bragg.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-09-22/donald-trumps-legal-woes-explained-latest/101465386

    Although according to another Aussie ABC article linked at the end of that first one even if he’s jailed Trump could apparently still run for POTUS again?

  43. macallan says

    @7

    Or simply a case of falsely accusing others of what oneself is guilty.

    As Ed Brayton used to say, with these people every accusation is a confession.

  44. hemidactylus says

    @49- birgerjohansson

    Any Tool song (esp. Ænema), Nine Inch Nails (esp. Hurt version with Johnny Cash), or any Seattle grunge song ca. early 90s.

  45. KG says

    #17
    You [drew] may want to question the veracity of the source of where you get your information. – whywhywhy@34

    No, drew is quite happy to spread far right propaganda and lies.

  46. says

    Someone needs to set up “for every migrant you bus out of Texas, we’re gonna relocate 10 Russians into your neighborhood.” Program. Gotta keep that population up!

  47. Pierce R. Butler says

    StevoR @ # 50: … even if he’s jailed Trump could apparently still run for POTUS again?

    Eugene Debs, most notably, ran for US President from jail (for an anti-war speech during WWI). The 14th Amendment bans those who have rebelled against the government from running for public office, but does not include as disqualifying mere peccadilloes such as bank fraud and tax evasion.

  48. felixmagister says

    I have toyed with the thought of New York giving its violent criminals early release on condition they spend it in Texas (these murderers probably just need some fresh country air to set them right, after all), but it probably wouldn’t be helpful.

  49. jrkrideau says

    @ 54 Marcus

    Someone needs to set up “for every migrant you bus out of Texas, we’re gonna relocate 10 Russians into your neighborhood.”

    Nice threat but where are you going to find that many crazy Russians who would move to Texas?

  50. hemidactylus says

    @57- jrkrideau

    Nobody from Gazprom or Rosneft? Surely Putin would be interested in the numerous Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl rings. Jerry Jones seems enough of a dick to warrant further FSB inquiry like the massage parlor fanboi was for the Patriots.

  51. KG says

    Nice threat but where are you going to find that many crazy Russians who would move to Texas? – jrkrideau

    Oh, I think after the “partial mobilisation” announcement by your Führer there would be no problem in recruiting as many as one could want.

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