Judicial Watch • More Fraud In Stimulus-Funded Weatherization Program

More Fraud In Stimulus-Funded Weatherization Program

More Fraud In Stimulus-Funded Weatherization Program

MAY 14, 2010

Weeks after rampant fraud was exposed in a welfare program to make low-income houses energy efficient in Wisconsin, a similar example of widespread corruption has surfaced in Texas.

Both states’ “weatherization” projects were funded with tax dollars allocated nationwide through a $5 billion stimulus infusion. The goal is to make the homes of poor folks more efficient by offering them 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.

The U.S. Department of Energy distributes the cash to local “community groups” that usually subcontract companies to do the actual work. The problem is that there is virtually no oversight and plenty of corruption has been documented in various states while the Obama Administration keeps pouring cash into the scandal-plagued program.

This week a Texas news organization reports serious problems in the workmanship of more than half of the weatherization jobs recently performed in the state. The flawed projects have so far cost taxpayers $22.3 million and were performed by a Houston nonprofit that refuses to reveal the locations of the homes it has weatherized with federal stimulus dollars.

Additionally, the so-called community group (Sheltering Arms Senior Services of Houston) illegally spent nearly half of its federal funding on administrative costs even though the legal limit is 5%. In dozens of cases the work could not be documented and in at least 33 of 53 cases, corrections must be made—at taxpayer expense—because the work was done incorrectly.

Less than a month ago a Wisconsin nonprofit called La Casa de Esperanza (The House of Hope) spent a chunk of its $20 million weatherization budget to buy gift cards for its employees, Christmas decorations, Halloween candy and to pay parking tickets. The husband of a charity employee also 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.

Texas has received the biggest chunk of stimulus cash—$327 million—for weatherization programs with Wisconsin getting $141.5 million and North Carolina $132 million. 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.

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.

 

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