How To Make $2.7 Million Disappear


Laura Chick

Dan Walters points out a new report from California Inspector General Laura Chick, detailing how an Imperial County "social service organization" managed to disappear $2.7 million in ARRA stimulus funds.

Chick, one of the very few straight shooters to emerge from L.A.'s political class, reports in her letter to the governor [pdf] that Brawley-based Campesinos Unidos got the funding to weatherize farm workers' homes, but did not have any employees with training in this line of work. It's unclear that the company has performed any of the work or has plans to do so. Chick writes:

My report also found that Campesinos' books are in such disarray that we cannot determine how much Recovery money has actually been spent or how well it has been spent. This is not an acceptable way to account for the people's money.

The full IG report [pdf] gives some details about the problems with Campesinos' records, which sound like the result of something worse than poor organization:

Specifically, CUI retroactively revised or added budget line item definitions, descriptions, and expenditure categories, and then executed numerous expenditure adjustments to shift costs. As a result, we found expenditures that were not ARRA related but were billed to ARRA, were charged to the wrong expenditure account, were charged to the wrong category of costs (Le., salaries were charged to operating expenses), and purchases that should not have been expensed.

Didn't Martha Stewart go to prison for this type of thing?

My attempt to figure out where all those Obamadollars were being spent in my own neighborhood.

NEXT: California Roundup: When Good Bills Go Bad; Obama's Traffic Hangover; Jerry vs. Business; Bell Wrung; and the Need for Concealment In O.C.

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  1. We’re calling the stimulus “ARRA” now? When did that happen? Do we have to call Obamacare “PPACA” too?

    And $2.7 million? Really? Wake me when you find some real dough missing.

    1. Well, remember that the Pentagon can’t account for $8.7 billion in Iraqi funds. Of course, now that OIF is over, I suppose it doesn’t matter.

      1. It was funneled to ACORN in Iraq. They are going to help register voters in Iraq.

  2. That sounds like a really fun job.

  3. Still, the program achieved its goals: Wanna bet who CUI and its friends will vote for in November?

  4. how an Imperial County “social service organization” managed to disappear $2.7 million in ARRA stimulus funds.

    When the hell did “disappear” become a transitive verb?

    1. When I became Interior Minister of Prussia.

      1. Fuck off, Goering.

  5. None dare call it “stealing”. That would be racist.

    1. OOPS!

      Me and my bad, racist fingers.

  6. You’re writing for that commie rag LA Weekly now?

  7. I guarantee you that if you did a truly adversarial audit of every state-level office that received ARRA funds you would find that this conduct was the rule and not the exception.

    Most state agencies lost state dollars during the recession and the first, middle and last use of any ARRA funds they got was to protect their existing employees. Whatever misdirection of the funds they had to do to keep their people employed, they were going to do. THAT WAS THE REAL PURPOSE OF THE FUNDING. To protect SEIU and NAGE from having any of their members lose out during the recession.

    1. *** Ding!!! ***

  8. 1) Yeah, that’s pretty blatant fraud.

    2) No, Martha Stewart went to prison for making a false statement to investigators. They didn’t convict her on anything else.

    1. You’re right. She went to jail for lying about a crime that never happened. I think the prosecution successfully convinced the jury that it was about insider trading, though. I saw a juror interview after her conviction and the guy was seething with class envy. He made it clear that he had voted to send her to jail for insider trading.

  9. Weatherization – that’s a super-duper multiplier. I’m sure the multiplying effect to such a shrewd plan more than made up for a few nickels and dimes being misplaced.

    Out of sheer self-torture I watched some of the Rachel Maddow Show last night, mainly on mute. But the segment was on the nightmare mortgage modification program. The graphic at the bottom during the segment said: “Obama mortgage modification program a disaster.” I don’t see how it could have been an anymore scathing critique. So, naturally I asked myself (cogzinant of the futility) how in the fuck do these people think the Healthcare (and gold tax) behemoth is gonna pan out!?

    I don’t git it, Big Dan.

    1. The problem with mortgages is that the Whiz Kids in DC don’t control enough of the sector yet. Since they will essentially control all of the medical industry, it will hum like a Swiss watch.

    2. I imagine Maddow subscribes to the Atrios critique of the Obama modification plan – namely, that it “failed” because it didn’t radically adjust everyone’s principal balance down and stop all foreclosures by changing bankruptcy laws yet again.

      In other words, their definition of “success” was “everybody gets put right-side up on their houses and bondholders everywhere are screwed, and the basic rules of finance are rewritten in a way that would have catastrophic unintended consequences”.

      1. If your eventual goal is Fabian socialism (or that peculiar mix of socialism and fascism primarily popular among university radicals), those consequences may be intended.

        Sometimes I think that much of the administration thinks The Road to Serfdom and the first half of Atlas Shrugged are how-to manuals.

  10. You mean monies distributed by and to political has been mismanaged? Who could have saw this coming?


  11. Damnit.. every freakin time.

    *political cronies.

    Looses the effect when you have to make corrections.

  12. If it pleases and sparkles, I would like to suggest that we… that we reopen Campesinos’ books for debate.

    1. All right, all right, come before the Rainbow Railing.

  13. This is a wicked Chick tract, notice who is ultimately behind the “revolutionists”.

    1. They are STILL making more Chick tracts???

      1. I’ll answer ye question…If ye be not a dirty papist!

  14. They made that money disappear fast than Reason killed image comments.

  15. Maybe if the US did not follow Reason’s recommended policy of importing millions of cheap farm workers then there would be farm worker shortages and in order to get workers the farmers would have to pay wages high enough that farm workers could insulate their own homes and the government would have no excuse to waste tax payers debt on such a project.

  16. Brawley-based Campesinos Unidos got the funding to weatherize farm workers’ homes, but did not have any employees with training in this line of work.

    If an organization helping migrant laborers can’t round up a few of their target demographic in the Home Depot parking lot to weatherize homes, then they’re worse criminals than we thought.

  17. Campesinos Unidos got the funding to weatherize farm workers’ homes, but did not have any employees with training in this line of work.


    Does applying caulk now require a BA or BS?

    1. If you want to see how bad home improvements can be when done by someone without training, just hire me.

      I can’t even drive a nail straight.

  18. Somebody cashed the checks. If that somebody can’t prove he provided a good or service in exchange for the compensation, then charge with a crime.
    The books of a small group like this can’t be in such disarray that a forensic audit can’t quickly determine whose fingerprints are all over the fraud. More like some powerful folks don’t want to probe too deeply.

  19. The books of a small group like this can’t be in such disarray that a forensic audit can’t quickly determine whose fingerprints are all over the fraud.

    No problem. Just go after whoever’s in charge. They’re responsible, aren’t they?

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