March 13, 2019 11:31 AM
Minnesota's legislative auditor says he can't substantiate allegations that money defrauded from a state child care program found its way to terror organizations overseas.
Lawmakers asked for the report following TV reports last year alleging that fraud in the Minnesota Child Care Assistance Program ran as high as $100 million annually.
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The reports, which partly citing unidentified sources, also said state and federal agents had tracked some of the money overseas and that they believed some of the cash was likely being skimmed by terrorist groups.
The report released Wednesday says investigators didn't find evidence to substantiate a connection between fraud money and support for a terrorist organization.
It says fraud in the child care program is a recognized problem, but it couldn't establish a reliable estimate of how big.
Tony Lourey, Minnesota's commissioner of human services, said his agency has a great deal of work ahead to better prevent, detect and investigate fraud. He also said his agency will establish a stakeholders group to advise on how to improve the integrity of the child care program while ensuring equitable access for all families served by it.
The commissioner said Gov. Tim Walz's budget includes money for improvements.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka says this affects not just taxpayers, but families that need assistance.
"The report today confirms what we've suspected since last summer- that widespread and rampant fraud exists in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP)," Gazelka said in a statement. "The lead investigator said as much as 50 percent of the state funding is being spent fraudulently, affecting not just the taxpayers, but the families that actually need assistance. Minnesotans are generous people, but they expect government to be accountable to them."
The Associated Press
Updated: March 13, 2019 11:31 AM
Created: March 13, 2019 09:29 AM
(Copyright 2019 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)