How much of the Feeding Our Future fraud could have been prevented?

The short answer is “all of it.” The Democrats are losing the blame game.

The editorial board of the Mankato Free Press pleads,

Food program fraud prosecution more important than blame game

The board concludes,

Taxpayers wouldn’t be better off if the Walz administration had challenged the payments, having to investigate the group, thereby blowing the FBI’s investigation or cover. They’re better off because alleged criminals have been caught. The system worked.

As new reporting shows, the system did not work. Upwards of a hundred million dollars of taxpayer money went out the door after the state learned of the fraud and long before the FBI got involved.

In an interview with the Minnesota Reformer, Gov. Tim Walz confirms that he was informed of the fraud in 2020, sometime between April and November of that year. The first time the judge in the Feeding Our Future lawsuit tipped his hand which way he was leaning was April 2021. The FBI was informed the same month. The FBI began its investigation the following month.

I cover the timeline of those critical earlier of 2020 (April through October) in this post.

So there is a minimum six-month period (November 2020 to April 2021) during which Gov. Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison knew about the fraud, were not constrained by any judge’s ruling or FBI investigation, and chose to keep the money flowing. At any time during that period, the state could have cried “fraud” or acted unilaterally.

During that interval, Feeding Our Future was invoicing the state about $20 million per month.

The system didn’t fail. The state’s highest elected officials failed.

What should the state have done during this time interval? I cover that in this Twitter thread:’

But it gets worse. The Reformer quotes Walz today as saying,

Walz said once the FBI completes its investigation, the state can create a plan to prevent such fraud from happening again.

Why wait? There is evidence that the fraud continues (at a much smaller scale) in the free-food programs to this day. Questions have also been raised about the management of other state-run programs for childcare, medical transportation, and personal care assistant (PCA) services. We need a plan to prevent fraud happening, now.

For more background on the Feeding Our Future scandal, the Center’s John Hinderaker and I did a webinar this week that can be viewed here.