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Operation Lonestar: The Treasury Department opens an investigation into Abbott’s use of federal funds for border missions

Gov. Greg Abbott’s use of COVID-19 relief dollars to support his border security mission came under scrutiny in Washington this week as questions mount over whether it marks the proper use of federal funds.

The video above is from a previous report.

The US Treasury Department’s inspector general launched an investigation into the spending on Tuesday, the Washington Post reported. The action came a day after a group of Texas Democrats in the US House of Representatives called on US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to investigate.

Those moves followed a post-analysis of funds destined to combat the effects of the pandemic and showed that Texas leaders were “redirecting public health and safety funds to their border operations while relying on federal pandemic funds to do a portion.” to replace the money”.

Those border operations included Operation Lone Star, a state border security program Abbott launched in March 2021 to deal with the surge in border crossings. The initiative involves deployment of the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Military Department to the border. Abbott has used state resources to patrol the border, build border barriers and detain migrants for trespassing on private land and then turn them over to immigration authorities.

The state has spent around $4 billion on the operations; The Post has reported that around $1 billion in coronavirus relief has been used.

The money came from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, better known as the CARES Act, which included a key provision to support the medical response to the pandemic.

“In fulfilling that responsibility … we are currently conducting a review of Texas’ use of funds from the (Coronavirus Relief Fund),” Richard K. Delmar, Assistant Inspector General of the US Treasury Department, told The Washington Post.

He also stated that he had not ruled out a “money refund”.

Abbott’s spokesman assured that the expenses were reasonable.

“Here in Texas, we’ve been working with the legislature to allocate federal funds to meet federal guidelines,” Abbott spokeswoman Renae Eze said in a statement to The Texas Tribune. “Between legislatures, in the event of a disaster, there are mechanisms in place to reallocate federal dollars as needed to respond to the disaster — and we had to use $4 billion in federal dollars for Operation Lone Star to do the federal government’s job.” .”

“Instead of attacking Texas for responding to their border disaster that they created and escalated over the past year, President Biden and the Congressional Democrats need to stop playing politics and do their jobs to secure our border,” she added added.

US Democratic Representatives from Texas Joaquin Castro of San Antonio and Veronica Escobar of El Paso led the letter to Yellen asking her department to investigate the matter.

“It is negligent and irresponsible for Governor (Abbott) to provide additional funding for Operation Lone Star, particularly when the funding in question was intended to help Texans recover from the pandemic,” the Texas Democrats wrote.

US Representatives Colin Allred of Dallas, Lloyd Doggett of Austin, Marc Veasey of Fort Worth and Sylvia R. Garcia, Al Green, Lizzie Pannill Fletcher and Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston also signed the letter.

“As you continue your oversight of the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Funds, we urge you to ensure that all states are using these crucial funds for the reasons they should be used,” they continued. “Governor Abbott must not be allowed to use federal coronavirus funds to further his political theater at the expense of Texas families.”

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that educates and collaborates with Texans on public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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https://abc13.com/texas-democrats-us-treasury-secretary-janet-yellen-investigation-operation-lone-star/11846059/ Operation Lonestar: The Treasury Department opens an investigation into Abbott’s use of federal funds for border missions

Dais Johnston

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