OAN’s Noah Herring
4:14 PM – Thursday, June 29, 2023
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration allegedly gave $92 million last year in leftover funds from federal COVID-19 stimulus money to fund a highway interchange project that directly benefitted one of his top political donors, according to state records.
The decision to use the leftover funds for the I-95 interchange at Pioneer Trail Road, which is near Daytona Beach, Florida, helped fulfill a years-long effort by Mori Hosseini, a housing developer who owns two tracts of land bordering the planned interchange. Hosseini is also politically tied to DeSantis.
The funding, which was reportedly approved by the DeSantis administration shortly after his re-election, expedited the project by more than a decade, according to state records.
Hosseini planned to develop the land into 650,000 square feet of non-residential use, including an outdoor shopping district. The project was named the “Woodhaven development,” and it has already begun construction with Hosseini labeling it as his “best project yet.”
The highway interchange will reportedly include several partial access roads onto Hosseini’s property, which was purportedly not included in the original design layout for the development.
Hosseini has reportedly donated tens of thousands of dollars to DeSantis’ campaigns, including loaning him a golf simulator and providing private jets for both DeSantis and his wife.
Jessica Ottaviano, the communications director for the state transportation department, did not directly respond to any questions regarding DeSantis’ or Hosseini’s involvement in the project. She said in a statement that state transportation planners “determined and prioritized projects that had local support and were production ready to use.”
“[T]his enhanced interchange project will help keep up with Florida’s growing population,” she said. “Florida currently leads the nation in net in-migration with a majority of these new residents moving to Central and Southwest Florida.”
The new exits on Interstate 95 will allow Hosseini’s development to be accessed by more travelers rather than having to use exits miles away in each direction.
“This is a project Florida does not need and is one the community does not want — the state should not keep pushing for it,” Charlie Crist, a Democrat who ran against DeSantis last election, said. “Powerful developers want the interchange so they can more easily build on nearby land they own.”
DeSantis’ press secretary Jeremy Redfern took to Twitter on Wednesday with a series of tweets dragging the recent report, including one that featured a photoshopped image of a Post reporter wearing a clown costume, insinuating that the report was bogus.
The “premise is false, and there’s nothing to answer,” Redfern tweeted, referring to the reporting, which he claimed is a “nothing-burger” and product of the “corporate media.”
Stay informed! Receive breaking news blasts directly to your inbox for free. Subscribe here. https://www.oann.com/alerts