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DeSantis Adviser Used ‘Silence of the Lambs’ Alias in Emails


Florida governor Ron DeSantis sent 50 Venezuelan asylum seekers from Texas to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts under false pretenses in September 2022.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis sent 50 Venezuelan asylum seekers from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts under false pretenses in September 2022.
Image: Joe Raedle (Getty Images)

One of the biggest political news stories in 2022 was Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ harebrained scheme to ship immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in a bid to own the libs. While the plan backfireda recent report from CBS Miami reveals more deception at the hands of the DeSantis administration, as a top adviser used a Silence of the Lambs-themed pseudonym tied to a private email address during the deal.

Larry Keefe, who has been politically referred to as Florida’s “Public Safety Czar, used the fake identity of Clarice Starling (a young FBI trainee who takes the starring role in Silence of the Lambs) to communicate with the CEO of Vertol Systems, which is the airline charter company involved in the immigrant relocation. According to records released by Governor Ron DeSantis’ office last Thursday at the behest of the Office of Open Government, Keefe and CEO James Montgomerie exchanged communication for several days to coordinate terms for the flight from Texas to Massachusetts—with two other flights planned to Delaware and Illinois—with Vertol getting a $1.5 million contract for the three planned flights.

“This is the email channel to use,” Keefe wrote to Montgomerie on August 26, 2022 using the private email address heat19.heat19@gmail.com, which has messages sent below the alias Clarice Starling. “Lt. Gen. Wurster gave me that call sign,” Keefe wrote again, though it is not clear if the call sign in question is Heat 19 or Clarice Starling, as the Office of Open Government stated in a memo at the beginning of these documents that both were call signs given to Keefe by those in the military community.

After being addressed as “Larry” by Montgomerie in a subsequent exchange on August 28, Keefe replies “See signal,” reminding Montgomerie to use the Starling pseudonym.

In an email on August 30, Keefe outlined the terms of a contract between the Florida Department of Transportation and Vertol Systems, which was then reformatted verbatim into an official communication on Vertol Systems letterhead signed by Montgomerie dated September 1. In this memorandum, the relocation of immigrants is dubbed “humanitarian relocation services,” and the specific relationship from Texas to Massachusetts is called “Project 1.” The email and subsequent document reads:

VSC proposes to provide to FDOT transportation-related, humanitarian relocation services (hereafter the “Services”)…This first Project (hereafter “Project 1”), shall involve the relocation of individuals to the state of Massachusetts or other, proximate northeastern state designated by FDOT based upon the extant conditions…The estimated total price for all Services related to Project 1 is an amount between $445,000.00 and $525,000.00 subject to FDOT approval.

Another memorandum sent from Montgomerie to Florida Department of Transportation State Purchasing Administrator Paul Baker outlines two additional “projects” that would occur between September 19 and October 3, 2022. Projects 2 and 3 would relocate up to 50 immigrants to Delaware (a plan that was reportedly cancelled at the last minute) and Illinois each for $425,000 and $525,000, respectively.

Gizmodo reached out to Keefe and Montgomerie using the emails listed in these documents, but they did not immediately respond to our request for comment.



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