1 Carr: Next scandal: Platinum EBT cards
Thursday, May 30, 2013
The next welfare scandal is going to be the huge balances on some of these EBT cards.
Wait until the Department of Terrorist Assistance (DTA) finally coughs up how much money is on these cards. And yes, Gov. Deval Patrick, this is another one of those “anecdotes.”
Last January a radio listener from Pittsfield sent me a receipt from a local convenience store. Some loafer had run up a tab of $3.28, so he whipped out an EBT card to pay for it. After paying his three bucks, he had $7,066.58 left on the card.
I kid you not. Over seven grand on an EBT card.
There aren’t too many ways to run up seven grand plus on your EBT card. Of course it’s easy if you never use the card while every month you’re getting a new direct deposit of taxpayer cash.
But the only ways not to spend down the balance are because 1) you don’t need an EBT card at all or 2) you have more than one EBT card.
It’s got to be one or the other, right?
A month or so after getting the receipt, I gave it to state Rep. Shauna O’Connell (R-Taunton). She’s served on some of these commissions investigating the fiasco that is Deval Patrick’s DTA, so I figured maybe she could get an answer.
The Herald, meanwhile, filed a FOIA for the top 100 EBT card balances. The DTA said it would cost $500 to research its records.
O’Connell asked the DTA for an accounting of the top EBT card balances. This was sometime last winter. When the phone didn’t ring, she knew it was the DTA.
The keeper of public records in the commonwealth is the secretary of state, Bill Galvin, a Democrat. So O’Connell called Galvin’s office and asked them to intervene. But the DTA apparently doesn’t answer to anyone, Democrat or Republican.
“They don’t discriminate on stonewalling,” said O’Connell. “That’s one thing you have to give them.”
At the end of Auditor Suzanne Bump’s scorching report on EBT fraud this week, she asked the DTA for an accounting of last year’s “missing” 47,000 recipients — a scandal that came to light after a Herald front-page story.
The DTA had conducted what amounted to a Democrat voter-registration drive among layabouts, by sending out a first-class mailing to all 480,000 of the state’s EBT card holders.
Just under 10 percent of the letters came back as undeliverable. Either because 1) they no longer lived at their previous addresses or 2) they never existed to begin with, except for the purposes of committing welfare fraud.
It’s got to be one or the other, right? Deval Patrick dismissed it as mere “leakage.” The DTA told Bump to take a hike.
The DTA called Secretary Galvin’s office the other day and told them that O’Connell should be hearing something by yesterday. Well, today is Thursday, and guess what?
When the phone doesn’t ring, Shauna, you’ll know it’s the DTA.