The hearing yesterday in the Minnesota House Health and Human Services Finance Division was another pathetic reminder that no matter how many times a government official blatantly breaks the law, abuses their position and defrauds taxpayers, there will be no consequences.
Monday’s Minnesota House Health & Human Services Finance Division hearing included testimony from Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Jodi Harpstead who repeatedly reassured the committee and Minnesotans that despite the fraudulent payments to child care centers, DHS is now “humming like a Swiss watch.”
Representative Mary Franson (R-8B) released a multitude of internal memos from the DHS indicating that officials wanted to continue to cut checks to a child care center whose bank account was frozen by the federal government because the owner was affiliated with a Taliban official. You got it Minnesota – the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) was being used to fund terror and Rep. Franson has the proof.
According to an article by the Minnesota Sun, “Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) released a number of internal DHS emails she obtained through a data practices request. The Republican lawmaker uncovered a number of alarming trends in the emails, including the department’s “cozy” relationship with an organization that conducts itself “like the mafia,” Inspector General Carolyn Ham’s continued paid leave from the department, and the agency’s willingness to pay a child care center with possible connections to a “Taliban official.”
So what happened during the hearing when Franson brought up the internal emails, the fraud, the willingness to pay a Taliban official with taxpayer money? She was called an “Islamaphobe” of course. Watch the video of Rep. Franson as she questions Jodi Harpstead using the Twitter link below and pay particular attention to Rep. Mohamud Noor (D-60B). Noor seems to think the Taliban and their connections to terror are some sort of Middle Eastern myth.
Data Practice Requests show that DHS knew of issues within the CCAP program in regards to terrorism. Instead of acknowledging the issue, I was called an ISLAMOPHOBE. 🙄 #mnleg
PS: come up with some new put-downs . https://t.co/4o5Tyy68D0
— Rep. Mary Franson (@RepMaryFranson) December 2, 2019
Representative Nick Zerwas (R-30A) tried to question Ms. Harpstead about the level of waste and fraud in DHS but Committee Chair, Tina Liebling (D-26A) ran interference for DHS. Rep. Zerwas owned the committee when he asked when the last internal audit of DHS took place. Zerwas also brought up the $29 million DHS overpayments to two Minnesota Tribes. According to the Pioneer Press, “Not even the Minnesota Department of Human Services knows which of its employees are at fault for overpaying two Native American tribes $29 million for substance abuse treatment covered under Medicaid.”
The overpayments were the result of DHS advising the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the White Earth Nation to bill at the wrong rate for opioid addiction treatment. The agency told the tribes to bill at a higher rate meant for clinical visits — $455 per day — when patients were taking the opioid addiction medication Suboxone at home. Zerwas told the committee that opioid addicts were paid $455 per day to get a glass of water, retrieve pill, and swallow. Not a bad gig, even for an addict.
Sad News: The Ham will not be canned!
Carolyn Ham – the former inspector general, who was herself under investigation, in charge of finding childcare fraud – but who would rather give fraudsters a heads up they were about to be investigated – and who was on paid leave after her failure was discovered by the Office of Legislative Auditor – and whose manager of investigating childcare fraud claims over half the $217 million per year is fraudulently stolen – she’s back at work and the investigation was quietly closed…
You can watch Chair Liebling and her inexcusable defense of the offensive DHS below.