Anticipating Shaunna O’Connell’s Next Press Release

(Given what we have seen of late on the “welfare fraud” beat, we would not be surprised to find this press release in our Inbox sometime very soon.)


Dismisses Purported Distinction Between “Potential” and “Actual” Welfare Fraud

The Office of State Representative Shaunna O’Connell

TAUNTON. Today State Representative Shaunna O’Connell, who has been sharply critical of the Patrick administration’s practices in verifying eligibility for welfare, announced that she is filing legislation to require welfare applicants to provide proof that they have received security clearance from the Central Intelligence Agency before receiving any benefits. In addition to providing information about their income and assets, O’Connell’s proposal would also require applicants to provide specific written documentation that the federal government had investigated their loyalty to the United States, strength of character, trustworthiness, and freedom from conflicting allegiances. Any applicant unable to provide the required documentation would be turned away. “It’s really simple,” said O’Connell. “Why would we waste taxpayer money on people who obviously lack the fitness to safeguard our nation’s secrets? And the fact that a security clearance can take up to a year to obtain adds to its usefulness as a screening tool — it helps to weed out those who would turn to welfare in some unexpected ’emergency’ or whatever.”

In response to critics who point out that a recent audit of the Department of Transitional Assistance did not find $25 million in actual fraud, but rather $25 million in potential fraud because documentation that might prove eligibility was not found in some files reviewed in the audit, O’Connell retorted that the distinction was meaningless. “Potential fraud is just as bad — I can’t sleep nights either way, just thinking about it.”

O’Connell strongly believes that the state must not rest until it is spending more money on hunting potential fraud than on providing benefits to indigent families: “The welfare program represents very nearly an entire one percent of the state budget. To ensure that assistance is provided only to the state’s poorest citizens, no stone must be left unturned in ferreting out those cannot prove their eligibility. It’s the very least we can do for our families in need.”


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