Congress Calls for National Welfare Investigation

October 2, 2023

JACKSON, Miss. – Following State Auditor Shad White’s testimony to Congress this summer about his office uncovering the Mississippi welfare scandal, the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee have called on the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) to “conduct an investigation into the use of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) fund.”

“The Committee’s concerns are exemplified by headlines in Mississippi,” wrote Chairmen Jason Smith and Darin LaHood. “At the July 12 hearing, Mr. White testified how critical welfare dollars were used for advertising at a college bowl game, provided to celebrities where no work product was delivered, paid family members of government officials, paid for down payments on homes, iPads for personal use, speeding tickets, and used to rent a field for a private travel softball team. We are concerned that the Mississippi case is emblematic of a systemic problem.”

The congressional request now heads to the GAO, which is the lead federal agency for providing fact-based, non-partisan information to the rest of the federal government.

During his testimony in July, Auditor White told members of Congress that the welfare fraud his team uncovered could be happening elsewhere due to lack of safeguards. To strengthen those safeguards, White recommended the federal Department of Health and Human Services:

  • Require state agency heads to sign statements under penalty of perjury about the number of people served by welfare,
  • Punish state agencies that fail to properly monitor nonprofits receiving welfare grants,
  • Report improper spending to Congress, and
  • Implement stricter eligibility criteria for TANF funds so that only the truly needy are eligible.

“Federal prosecutors, who will decide who faces any remaining criminal charges in our welfare case, are currently deliberating about their next steps, but while they wait, I hope the GAO and federal lawmakers can come together to make TANF more resistant to fraud,” said Auditor White.

Read the full letter to the GAO here.