Tag Archives: TANF

Mississippi’s Politicians and Powerful are the Real Welfare Queens

Greenville, Mississippi   In the ongoing conservative war against the poor, welfare or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) spending was converted to a block grant program, allowing states, purportedly, to design their own best practices and programs.  In many ideologically based, conservative dominated southern and up-north states, block grants allowed them to reduce or curtail welfare programs designed for families to make the benefits more miserly and access to the programs virtually impossible.  Worse than that, welfare designed for the poor has now been found to be a slush fund for politicians, the powerful, and the well-connected.

The Mississippi state auditor released a 100-page report this week questioning $94 million in expenditures largely on questionable pass throughs to two play-pretend nonprofits, Mississippi Community Education Center (MCEC) and Family Resource Center of North Mississippi (FRC).  All of this was facilitated by the state director of the Department of Human Services and enabled by palms greased all over the Magnolia State.

According to the Jackson, Mississippi based, Clarion Herald,

“Among the audit’s “questioned” spending:

  • The two nonprofits used welfare money to hire lobbyists, often without paperwork describing the work they were supposed to do.
  • MCEC gave contracts to, and hired, family members of Davis, sometimes making lump sum payments. The payments and salaries to his nephew and brother-in-law totaled more than $1 million over the last several years, auditors said.
  • Brett Favre’s company, Favre Enterprises, was paid $1.1 million by MCEC over two installments for appearances, promotions, autographs and speaking engagements by the former star quarterback from Mississippi. Auditors said after reviewing dates and other details they determined Favre “did not speak nor was he present for those events.” They wrote the amount Favre made in the deal was “unreasonable.” The Clarion Ledger has reached out to the Favre’s agent for comment on this story and several related DH stories and has not received a response. He faces no criminal charges.
  • Both nonprofits gave welfare money to a trio of wrestlers, Ted DiBiase, Ted DiBiase, Jr., and Brett DiBiase — some of it for work never performed, some for “unreasonable” travel costs.
  • MCEC paid Victory Sports Foundation with welfare money to run fitness programs. Mississippi legislators and other officials or staffers participated in some of them, free of charge. The trainer who runs Victory, Paul Lacoste, has said he did not know he was receiving welfare money from the nonprofit.
  • MCEC bought three cars with welfare money, each worth more than $50,000, for New and two sons. Salaries, cellphones and other expenses were also paid using welfare money. The vehicles included a 2018 Nissan Armada, a Chevrolet Silverado and a Ford F-250. In each case, the vehicle was registered to MCEC, but auditors said the vehicles were for personal use.
  • The report highlighted many questionable advertising, promotional and branding expenses paid using welfare money. As previously reported, they included payments to a number of media outlets — including the Clarion Ledger for digital ads, TeleSouth Communications, which owns SuperTalk, and to WAPT-TV.
  • MCEC used welfare money for sports-related purposes, including sponsoring a college baseball tournament and other NCAA events.
  • MCEC cut a $3,000 check to a bookkeeper at the organization, though a handwritten note said that “$3,000 cash was given to” Davis, the DHS executive director.
  • MCEC moved $6 million in welfare money to a private school and organization run by New, and bought supplies for the school.
  • The audit confirmed Clarion Ledger reporting that New and her son had invested welfare money in a Florida medical company, Prevacus, in exchange for the company conducting “clinical trials of the new medicine on children in Mississippi.” Several TANF payments were made to the company, but after auditors first began asking about use of TANF funds in July 2019, the payment description was changed to “Bingo” in accounting software used by the nonprofit, auditors wrote.”

My hair is on fire!  Mississippi has some of the hardest and lowest welfare benefits in the country, long victimizing minorities and the poor.  Some of these folks are under indictment and may go to jail, but what about all of the people behind the outstretched hand for perks and favors while Mississippi mothers and children were going hungry?

The poor have already been penalized on a daily basis.  Will those responsible all up and down the line face any penalty?  Who in their right mind believes this is a Mississippi-only problem and not repeated in states throughout the country?

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Kansas Takes the War on Welfare Recipients to New Extremes

Photo by Dave Ranney Kansas Department for Children and Families Secretary Phyllis Gilmore looks on as Gov. Sam Brownback discusses a welfare reform measure that will take effect July 1. - See more at: http://www.khi.org/news/article/brownback-says-welfare-reform-aims-to-break-cycles-of-dependency#sthash.HDeRIs2q.dpuf

Photo by Dave Ranney Kansas Department for Children and Families Secretary Phyllis Gilmore looks on as Gov. Sam Brownback discusses a welfare reform measure that will take effect July 1. – See more at: http://www.khi.org/news/article/brownback-says-welfare-reform-aims-to-break-cycles-of-dependency#sthash.HDeRIs2q.dpuf

New Orleans     Governor Brownback of Kansas signed into law the most oppressive and restrictive legislation dealing with welfare families in the United States.  Really?  Is that something to be proud of in Kansas now?

The headlines have focused on the stigmatization of these families with children on TANF – Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.  Nail parlors, liquor stores, casinos, baseball parks, and swimming pools are now off limit and won’t be able to process the TANF debit card.  Welfare moms can also forget about using their welfare dollars on cruise ships and in tattoo parlors as well, much less a trip to the spa or buying themselves a nice new bauble at the jewelry store.  Furthermore they are limited to a cap of $25 per day in using their welfare card at ATMs, so how far could they get.  And, before this good life corrupts a welfare recipient’s character, for good measure the lawmakers reduced lifetime benefits to 3 years from the 4 years they enjoyed before the new law.

Were the legislators outraged that welfare families were living high on the hog?  If you look at the actual benefits, you would have to say no.  Maximum benefits for a family of two in Kansas are $352 per month, family of three $429, and family of four $497 per month and so on, and that’s in the high cost high population counties.  In a rural county, a family can get by according to Kansas on $40 per month less.  I can only guess because they have access to eating more dirt.  On $500 or so per month with a family of four after paying rent, taking the bus to mandatory job searches, paying for school supplies, trying to keep the utilities and phone working, I would have loved to meet the master home economist who could have afforded a sea cruise.

Was this step necessary because the ranks of welfare recipients has been exploding at some obscene, crazy, out-of-control level?  Nope.  Not that either.  Even throughout the recession when nationally the ranks of TANF recipients rose by more than one-third, the numbers have gone down in Kansas by almost 50%.  Last year, in fact, Kansas just about led the nation in losing welfare recipients.

Must have been money then, right?  We’ve all read about the ill-fated Brownback tax cuts that almost bankrupted Kansas for lack of revenue, the lawsuits and court orders to fund schools, and the general horror of state funding.  Well, no, it’s not that either.  The federal government pays about $110 million for TANF in Kansas and the state pitches in about $60 million.  And, in what may be the height of absurdity, as they squeeze every penny from a welfare mother’s clinched fist, Brownback has set aside $40 million in a special TANF reserve according to reports.  TANF may be a money loser for the recipients, but Brownback is making it into a cash-cow for the state.

Oh, and a couple of drug convictions and a little prison time and you are barred from life, so forget about rehabilitation.  And, probably forget about a lot more as well, since the good politicians of Kansas think you can make your future some other way without any welfare.  I guess through crime, but I’m not sure any of them have thought that part of their new policies out any better than any other piece of it.

We’ve run out of rational explanations, I’m afraid.  It just seems to come down to pure and simple meanness.  The inability to openhandedly provide even the bare minimum of income support for low income families without adding hate and stigma to their lives seems past the elected leaders in Kansas now.  There’s no yellow brick road there anymore.  And, it turns out it was not the Tin Man who lacked a heart but Brownback and his buddies in the legislature.

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“Welfare Music” – The Bottle Rockets

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