“Hardest Hit Fund” to Help Struggling Homeowners Spent Millions on Parties, Bonuses, Cars

Image result for hardest hit fund fraudA multi-billion-dollar government program launched by Obama to help families hit by the housing crisis squandered millions on parties, employee bonuses, cars, and superfluous data storage. The program is known as Hardest Hit Fund and operates under the Treasury Department, which does little to oversee it and sits by as federal audits expose pervasive fraud and waste. The findings of the latest probe were released this month by the inspector general of another reckless Treasury gem, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), Obama’s disastrous initiative to rescue the nation’s ailing financial institutions.

The findings are documented in an exhaustive 93-page report that should enrage every American taxpayer. For those who don’t have the stamina to get through the entire document, here are some highlights; $3 million in expenses, deemed “unnecessary” by the watchdog, were spent on picnics, barbecues, gift cards, a new customer center, employee bonuses, cars, and more. Here’s a breakdown straight out of the federal audit; $598,374 went to car allowances, free parking, and other transportation perks; $342,728 was spent on settlements, severance, and other employee legal expenses; $342,407 went to employee bonuses, cash debit cards, gifts, and other perks; $258,333 was spent on “avoidable” data storage expenses; $150,618 on barbecues, parties, picnics, steak and seafood dinners, and other food and beverages. The rest was spent on unemployment payments to former employees and a customer center in Rhode Island that had already received federal money years earlier for a new office.

“Taxpayers are paying more for this program than is necessary, and losing Federal dollars to waste, because Treasury is not following its own contract to limit TARP spending to only expenses necessary to modify loans or demolish blighted houses,” the inspector general writes in the report. “Treasury has also allowed state agencies to charge TARP for expenses not included in the Permitted Expenses, such as food and beverages, which are not necessary to modify loans or demolish blighted houses.” The probe was requested by a U.S. senator in the aftermath of a 2016 audit exposing $8.1 million in waste in Nevada’s Hardest Hit Fund. In that case the money was blown on outrageous things like employee outings, staff lunches and gifts, parties, a fancy car for a supervisor, and severance pay for a top official. The Treasury Department never bothered trying to recover the money, according to the audit, and the fraud continues to grow.

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Cool stuff, thanks for the share.

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Taxpayers Shell Out $220K For
Another Dem’s Sexual Harassment Settlement

(TeaParty.org) – Just as the American taxpayer was finished reeling from outrage after John Conyers Jr. settled his sexual harassment lawsuit using taxpayer money, another Democrat has been caught in the same dirty act.

Up next is Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings, accused of harassment and the unwanted touching of Republican staffer Winsome Packer, who was on the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Hastings claims that he was not aware of the settlement and that he is outraged that taxpayer money was used to pay off the staffer.

“This matter was handled solely by the Senate Chief Counsel for Employment. At no time was I consulted, nor did I know until after the fact that such a settlement was made,” he said,according to Roll Call. “I am outraged that any taxpayer dollars were needlessly paid to Ms. [Winsome] Packer.”

From Politico:

The lawsuit was filed in 2011 by Judicial Watch, a public interest group. In the lawsuit, a former staffer on the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Packer, alleges she was the victim of “unwelcome sexual advances” and “unwelcome touching” by then-chairman Hastings.

Packer also claimed retaliation by the congressman and his staff director, Fred Turner, who also was named in the suit. The conservative judicial watchdog charged that Packer was unfairly targeted because she was a Republican serving in a commission ruled by Democrats.

This wasn’t the first time that Hastings has had a run in with the law. He was formerly a federal judge in a district court in his home state of Florida. In 1988, he was impeached by the House for bribery and perjury, and was later removed from the bench by the Senate. He was only the sixth federal judge in the history of this country to be removed from the bench by the Senate.

The lawsuit against Hastings in 2011 was filed by Judicial Watch. At the time, Tom Fitton, who still heads Judicial Watch, said the following:

“The allegations against Alcee Hastings as detailed in this complaint are outrageous. For two years Hastings subjected Ms. Packer to a never-ending barrage of unwanted sexual advances. And when Ms. Packer tried, time and again, to put a stop to it, he resorted to threats and intimidation to force her compliance. Even after Hastings’ behavior caused Ms. Packer’s physical collapse, he would not relent. We look forward to holding Alcee Hastings and the other defendants accountable for their unlawful behavior in court.”

Ms. Packer says that she was sexually harassed by Hastings from 2008 to 2010 and that when she complained about it, Hastings and Commission Staff Director Fred Turner made threats against her, including termination.

The news about Hastings comes at the same time that sexual assault allegations have exploded in the Congress, leading to resignations by several of its members. In addition to Conyers’ scandal, Senator Al Franken was accused by several women of grabbing their breasts and butts. There is a picture of Franken cupping the breasts of a woman that had gone on a trip for the USO to entertain the troops. Taxpayers also paid out $84,000 for sexual harassment charges against Republican Blake Farenthold.

Both Conyers and Franken have resigned from the House and Senate respectively. All told, the taxpayers have footed $17 million out in settlements. Judicial Watch and others have filed Freedom of Information Act lawsuits to get the complete list of all payouts made on behalf of congressmen and possibly women. What they find out could further shock and outrage Americans, and spark a fire for more reform.

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