TOP News

US: Newly released records show top DeSantis adviser used private email and alias to coordinate migrant flights

Members of Republican base hint that they are ready for a new generation of leader to run in 2024

  Members of Republican base hint that they are ready for a new generation of leader to run in 2024 This should be Trump territory, a gathering of grassroots conservatives in Phoenix, but interviews with dozens of attendees suggest he cannot guarantee an easy run to the 2024 nominationBut things get more complicated when you ask attendees if they are backing Donald Trump or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the 2024 Republican nomination.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis’ top safety official helped write language that helped a former legal client secure a state contract to oversee a controversial program to fly migrants from the southern border to Martha’s Vineyard.

The DeSantis administration paid at least $1.5 million to Vertol Systems to coordinate the flights to send migrants (above) from the southern border to Martha's Vineyard in September. © Ron Schloerb/The Cape Cod Times The DeSantis administration paid at least $1.5 million to Vertol Systems to coordinate the flights to send migrants (above) from the southern border to Martha's Vineyard in September.

In the process, the official, Larry Keefe, used a non-public email address that made it appear that emails were coming from “Clarice Starling,” the main character from "The Silence of the Lambs" novel.

Young conservatives send mixed messages on Trump at MAGA gathering

  Young conservatives send mixed messages on Trump at MAGA gathering Some attendees are talking about the former president more as a historical figure than the GOP's future presidential nominee.The young voters who were drawn to a Republican Party led by Trump are already open to another leader becoming the face of the GOP. That, of course, is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump’s top potential rival in a 2024 primary.

The newly released records show that Keefe, who served as a U.S. Attorney in the Trump administration, used encrypted messaging apps and a private email address from “Clarice Starling” when communicating with James Montgomerie, CEO of Vertol Systems, a Destin, Fla.-based company the administration paid at least $1.5 million to coordinate the migrant flights. They also show Keefe helping Vertol, who he represented when in private legal practice, draft invoice language the company used when submitting its proposal to the Florida Department of Transportation.

The bizarre twist in the ongoing saga was revealed in records released by the DeSantis administration last Thursday, just days before the holiday weekend. The records were first reported by CBS Miami. They shed light on the layers of secretive steps the DeSantis administration was taking when coordinating the flights, which included sending about 50 mostly Venezuelan asylum-seekers from the southern border to Martha’s Vineyard in mid-September. Additional flightsto Delaware, the home state of President Joe Biden, were planned, but never occurred.

Judge who denied teenager an abortion, citing her school grades, reappointed by Florida Gov DeSantis

  Judge who denied teenager an abortion, citing her school grades, reappointed by Florida Gov DeSantis Jared Smith lost re-election to the Hillsborough County Court, but Gov. Ron DeSantis has now appointed him to the Sixth District Court of Appeal. 1/15 SLIDES © Octavio Jones/Getty Images Ron DeSantis' wife, Casey, has been instrumental in the Florida governor's rise to fame. Here's a timeline of their relationship. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his wife, Casey, a former newscaster, wed at Disney World in 2009. They have three children, and Casey is in remission after a breast-cancer diagnosis in 2021.

“See signal,” Keefe emailed Montgomerie on Aug. 28, a reference to an encrypted messaging app that can be set to automatically delete messages.

It was in response to an email from Montgomerie with his “suggestions" for draft invoice language that would later be sent to the DeSantis administration transportation agency.

“Short and sweet,” Montgomerie wrote.

Keefe and Montgomerie did not return a request seeking comment.

The Keefe email came from the email address “[email protected],” a private email account not tied to Keefe’s taxpayer-funded state account that has messages sent under the name “Clarice Starling.” The “heat19” moniker was a “call sign” given to him by Lt. Gen. Donald Wurster, a retired U.S. Air Force Special Operations commander, Keefe told administration officials.

On Sept. 1, Keefe used the personal email account to send Montgomerie draft language that the Vertol Systems’ CEO would, nearly word-for-word, submit to the Florida Department of Transportation as part of his proposal for the state contract, which was ultimately approved.

Desantis Calls Trump 'A Moron Who Has No Business Running For President,' Former Staffers Say: Report

  Desantis Calls Trump 'A Moron Who Has No Business Running For President,' Former Staffers Say: Report The off-camera insult-flinging between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump is intensifying as the two prepare to potentially square off against each other to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The latest news comes from a Vanity Fair report, in which Gabriel Sherman writes that Desantis called Trump “a moron who has no business running for president,” according to former staffers of the Florida Governor. See Also: Trump Answers The Question, 'If You Had It To Do Again, Would You Have Done It?'Trending: Bill Gates Says This Could Lead To Civil War And 'Bring It All To An End'Must Read: Elon Musk's Jet Tracker Is Back On T

“This appears to be a purposeful attempt to evade Florida's public records laws. It's not surprising that the Governor's office wanted to keep these records secret because they suggest that a public official helped draft a bid by a private company for government services,” said Ben Wilcox, co-founder of Integrity Florida, a nonprofit government watchdog. “That's bid-rigging and it's potentially illegal.”

DeSantis’ office replied to a request for comment by including a note from the Office of Open Government, a state office tasked with providing the governor and agencies guidance on open records. The note from the Office of Open Government states that it discovered the emails linked to Keefe and turned them over to the governor.

“According to Mr. Keefe, he created and sometimes used this account while in private law practice to communicate via email in this setting,” the Office of Open Government replied in the note.

DeSantis’ administration has generally been reluctant to voluntarily release details about the program. Along with being sued over public records requests, the administration still has not released the Vertol contract or specifically how the $1.5 million was spent.

El Paso took too long to respond to crushing migrant crisis, critics say

  El Paso took too long to respond to crushing migrant crisis, critics say Occurred on July 22, 2022 / Norway: "Me and my cousin took our bikes to Norway on vacation"

DeSantis has said the flights were designed to draw attention to the Biden administration’s southern border policies, but opponents have charged the program is driven by politics as DeSantis eyes a potential 2024 bid for president. Democrats have accused DeSantis of exploiting vulnerable migrants and the Treasury Department’s watchdog has opened an inquiry into whether the Florida governor is improperly using money associated with Covid-19 federal assistance to fund the program.

Legislative leaders have vaguely said they support DeSantis’ focus on immigration when asked about the money for the flights, which amounts to about $50,000 per migrant. But they have side-stepped questions about whether lawmakers should have more specifics or an oversight role over how the money was spent. Senate President Kathleen Passidomo’s office on Wednesday declined to answer questions about the new records. House Speaker Paul Renner, who earlier this month said he is prepared to allocate more money for migrant flights in next year’s budget, did not return a request seeking comment.

The new records were not released as part of an initial request from the Florida Center for Government Accountability, which is suing the administration over the slow release of public records related to the migrant flights. In a note that came with the records released last week, DeSantis administration officials said the failure to initially release the records was an oversight because Keefe was using a private email account, not his state email account.

“After discovering the “Heat 19” email address, [the Office of Open Government] conducted a search for responsive records involving this address,” read the note. “This search yielded the records we are producing now.”

The new records have prompted The Florida Center for Government Accountability to ask a Leon County judge to consider the new evidence in connection with its lawsuit seeking public records pertaining to the migrant flights. The organization also wants to re-question Montgomerie, who the center said could have perjured himself based on the new records. He testified the draft language he sent Keefe was released to consent forms signed by the migrants on the flights, not the invoice language outlined in the new records.

“The new evidence directly refutes Mr. Montgomerie’s testimony about the ‘draft sent’ message he claimed was voluntary consent form signed by passengers,” read a motion filed Dec. 23. “

Florida Gov. DeSantis' office to investigate drag show event for exposing children to inappropriate content .
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration is investigating a drag show Christmas event that allegedly exposed children to "sexualized acts."The event, which was held at the Broward Center of the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, was part of a national tour for "A Drag Queen Christmas.

See also