By Jim Kouri
During President Barack Obama’s latest campaign tour he’s been touting a new round of government tinkering with the housing crisis by promising homeowners relief from foreclosures — foreclosures many experts have traced to the Fanny Mae/Freddy Mac debacle.
While the news media focus on the Obama-led assault on Wall Street and finance, and the continued controversy over record home foreclosures, a legal watchdog group has exposed another example of government mismanagement — even out-and-out fraud.
In the latest of many scandals involving President Barack Obama’s, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s monstrous economic stimulus, a fraud-infested welfare program to make low-income houses energy efficient is cheating taxpayers out of billions with a recent example documented in Wisconsin, according to public-interest group Judicial Watch’s blog.
According to a report in the JW blog, at least $5 billion in stimulus funds were allocated to “weatherization” programs nationwide with virtually no oversight and plenty of corruption.
The U.S. Department of Energy distributes the cash to local “community groups” that usually subcontract companies to do the actual work. Low-income homeowners get free insulation, sealing and even new central heating and cooling systems compliments of Uncle Sam. Some people even get new refrigerators, water heaters and furnaces.
In Wisconsin, a nonprofit called La Casa de Esperanza (The House of Hope) got nearly $20 million to weatherize homes in three counties, but instead has spent some of the money on gift cards for its employees, Christmas decorations, Halloween candy and to pay parking tickets, according to a Milwaukee newspaper — the Journal-Sentinel — report.
Additionally, the husband of a charity employee illegally got $10,000 worth of U.S. taxpayer-financed work on his home and much of the weatherization done on houses that actually qualified was faulty or didn’t meet the federal standards. In all, the state of Wisconsin is getting $141.5 million in stimulus funds for its weatherization projects.
La Casa’s finance director defended his community group’s weatherization program, saying that “if you looked at every single operator you would find similar problems everywhere” because “that’s the nature of the business.”
Perhaps that’s why funding for the decades-old federal weatherization program got nixed in 2008. Even when it was fully operational it only received about $220 million annually, not the huge infusion that President Obama has given it. The stimulus also gave other states big chunks of cash for weatherization, including $327 million to Texas and $132 to North Carolina.
The allocations are simply a speck on the never ending list of examples of fraud and abuse in the $787 billion stimulus that Obama promised would jumpstart the economy and put Americans back to work, according to Judicial Watch’s blog.
“Instead, tens of millions of dollars have gone to companies under criminal investigation for defrauding the government and tens of millions more have funded wasteful projects including multi million-dollar turtle crossings, abandoned train stations and Social Security stimulus checks for 10,000 dead people,” JW’s blogger stated.