Expressing her outrage at the flagrant abuse of taxpayer dollars, Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (CA-45) today released the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) response to her questions posed at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on ongoing problems in the management of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program by the Torres-Martinez Tribe. The consistent discrepancies in audits and mismanagement of federal dollars, as highlighted by the Desert Sun investigative reports, have been ongoing for years.
"I am outraged at this abuse of taxpayer dollars that has been allowed to go on for far too long," said Bono Mack. "It is clear that the Tribe and HHS have failed to work together to ensure transparency in the use of federal dollars, and despite repeated problems and warnings, unexplained spending remains. The program also continues to receive federal dollars despite reaching far fewer Native American families than anticipated.
"The agency's formal response reveals that it will allow the Tribe's past penalties for abuse of the system to be forgiven simply by giving the program less taxpayer dollars this year. How can this be an acceptable solution, when those who did wrong don't have to pay while families with legitimate needs could see important services decreased?
"As we face tough economic times and a massive federal deficit, it is all the more essential that we eliminate waste, fraud and abuse and ensure each federal dollar is being spent efficiently and effectively.
"HHS' response to this problem is insufficient and is letting our community and American taxpayers down and is empowering the very problems that are plaguing the system."