WASHINGTON — The government doled out as much as $1.4 billion in bogus assistance to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, getting hoodwinked to pay for season football tickets, a tropical vacation and even a divorce lawyer, congressional investigators have found.
Prison inmates, a supposed victim who used a New Orleans cemetery for a home address, and a person who spent 70 days at a Hawaiian hotel all were able to wrongly get taxpayer help, according to evidence that gives a new black eye to the nation's disaster relief agency.
Agents from the General Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, went undercover to expose the ease of receiving disaster expense checks from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The GAO concluded that as much as 16 percent of the billions of dollars in FEMA help to individuals after the two hurricanes was unwarranted.
The findings are detailed in testimony, obtained by The Associated Press, that is to be delivered at a hearing Wednesday by the House Homeland Security subcommittee on investigations.
To dramatize the problem, GAO provided lawmakers with a copy of a $2,358 U.S. Treasury check for rental assistance that an undercover agent got using a bogus address. The money was paid even after FEMA learned from its inspector that the undercover applicant did not live at the address. MORE
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Unfortunately, this story is a "duh." Too many people are just dishonest. And this is the problem with a distant government doling out aid money. Charity belongs to the local areas - to the churches, to the charitable organizations. Charity does not belong at the national governmental level. Our tax dollars should not be used in this way. If I want my money going to people who live in a known hurricane zone who don't bother to prepare or evacuate, then I should be able to designate where it goes and how it is used. The government should not be holding a gun to my head, taking my hard-earned money and just throwing it away like this!
I support the Fair Tax!! And I support *gradually* removing all charitable purposes from the government and turning them back to private charities and churches. If people want to eat, they should work. (2 Thessalonians 3:10-11: "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. * For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.") If they cannot work, then they should be supported by their families or at the discretion of private charities or the churches.