Governor Calls on Attorney General to Get Serious About Welfare Fraud
July 14, 2016
For Immediate Release: Thursday, July 14, 2016
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531
AUGUSTA – Since less than half of the welfare fraud cases presented to Attorney General Janet Mills have been prosecuted, Governor Paul R. LePage is calling on her to get serious about stopping welfare fraud. More than 50 welfare fraud cases are still pending at the AG’s office.
“At the request of House Speaker Mark Eves, the Attorney General is wasting her staff’s valuable time by fining a commission $500 for an informal meeting held at the Blaine House instead of prosecuting welfare fraud,” said Governor LePage. “DHHS is doing a terrific job cracking down on welfare fraud and now has more than 50 pending welfare fraud cases in the AG’s office. The Attorney General should prioritize her staff to work on those cases, as DHHS has previously requested, rather than having them spend time on election-year political games. Hard-working Mainers are watching dishonest, able-bodied people defraud the welfare system and get away with it. The Maine people demand welfare reform, but the Attorney General would rather pander to her Democratic cronies than protect the safety net that is supposed to help truly needy Mainers.”
In 2015, the Fraud, Investigation and Recovery Unit (FIRU) of the Department of Health and Human Services referred 22 cases to local District Attorneys and 105 cases of welfare fraud to the Attorney General’s office, totaling $1,216,805 in theft value. The AG’s office has prosecuted 46 cases—less than half of those referred—resulting in 36 convictions.
So far in 2016, FIRU has referred 26 cases to local District Attorneys and 60 cases to the Attorney General’s office, totaling $1,087,435 in theft value. The 60 cases referred to the AG’s office have resulted in 16 convictions and six guilty pleas. Nearly 50 cases are still pending at the AG’s office.
“The Maine people know welfare fraud is happening every day, and many see it with their own eyes,” said the Governor. “DHHS is doing its job to fight welfare fraud—cases referred from FIRU have increased tenfold, from just 10 in 2010 to 105 in 2015—but prosecutions are not keeping pace. Mainers expect the Attorney General to vigorously prosecute these cases, not play silly campaign games just to generate headlines.”