Democratic legislators did not like his Wednesday testimony, particularly Rep. John Considine, DFL-Mankato.
“You knew this was wrong and you did it anyway,” Considine said while staring at Undersander. “I find it pretty despicable. … I am just sorry there is no way we can prosecute you.”
The Waite Park resident did it to call attention to a bill from Rep. Jeff Howe, R-Rockville, that would require personal assets to be included in the government’s formula for food stamp recipients. Understander legally collected food stamps during a period in which he had little income, the key criteria for receiving the benefit.
The Waite Park millionaire, the focus of most of the Wednesday discussion, said that while he received about $300 a month in food stamps some people in his area who really need the help got just $14.
Rep. Laurie Halverson, DFL-Eagan, joined others in her party to criticize Undersander.
“I am finding it incredibly offensive that $6,000 in benefits were taken,” Halvorson said.
Added Rep. Jennifer Schultz, DFL-Duluth: “I think it is inappropriate to apply for these benefits.”
Undersander’s conscience is clear. He offset the amount of food stamps he lawfully received through charitable contributions.
Undersander said he accomplished his goal.
“I have obviously gotten your attention,” he told lawmakers.
Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, praised the Waite Park man.
“I am really sorry about the line of questioning that has been put forth, and the accusations,” she said. “You should be able to come to a committee without being accused of being a thief.”
Of course, the real thieves are those in positions of authority who don’t care enough to improve the system in order to protect both those in need and the taxpayers who underwrite it.