The government doled out as much as $1.4 billion in bogus assistance to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, getting hoodwinked to pay for season football tickets, a tropical vacation and even a divorce lawyer, congressional investigators have found.
Prison inmates, a supposed victim who used a New Orleans cemetery for a home address, and a person who spent 70 days at a Hawaiian hotel all were able to wrongly get taxpayer help, according to evidence that gives a new black eye to the nation's disaster relief agency. Read more.
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Check out what FOX Fans are saying.
"While there is no doubt that FEMA needs to be overhauled, the root of this issue was caused by the media's attempts to smear President Bush, the New Orleans government's incompetence, and the general public's complaints about a slow response. Act too fast without planning and we have $1.4 billion in wasted funds; act to slow and we have every liberal in the country wanting a head on a platter." Shawn (Dacula, GA)
"This is just another example of big government gone out of control. Every one of the FEMA employees that doled out the money (obviously without verifying) should be fired. Every one of the criminals should be forced to re-pay the government. If they are unable to do so, they should be subjected to hard labor to pay off their deceit." Tony (Schaumburg, IL)
"I spent a week in New Orleans in April 2006 working as a volunteer, and the only government agency I saw in action was FEMA. Maybe some folks cheated or were cheated, but it wouldn't be the first time. Do you really think corruption in government started with this agency? Should we yank the chain on something that was at least doing some real good? There is a bigger problem than whether some people were successful in cheating the FEMA agency the people of New Orleans who are still in need of aid." Connie (Cincinnati, OH)
"FEMA and the federal government should stop paying for anything. What happened years ago, for instance, in the Galveston storm? Did the government pay those people? Where is personal responsibility? It is not the government's responsibility to pay people for their losses." Clasina (New Iberia, LA)
"It is obvious that those who requested relief falsely must serve jail time and return all monies. However, they shouldn’t suffer this debacle alone. Any politician who wittingly or unwittingly endorsed these frauds should suffer consequences by being stripped of office, fined, or serving a minimum of a year in prison. As for FEMA, all managers, supervisors, and auditors involved should receive jail time." Dan (Norristown, PA)
"FEMA probably needs to revise its procedures, but the real culprits are those who deliberately ripped off the taxpayers in the aftermath of Katrina." — Chuck (Franklin, PA)
"If FEMA slowed down the payments to the victims of the storm, they would have been burned at the stake by the media. Now they are being roasted for giving out money to crooks who claimed they were victims. It seems that nothing the government agencies do is good enough. How about putting the blame on the crooks? We need to put them in jail to serve as an example to others waiting for the next disaster." — G.G.
"In my opinion, get rid of FEMA entirely. If somebody needs to be saved, have the military, including the Coast Guard, National Guard, and state or local police do it. As far as homes and businesses, has anybody heard of insurance? Feel free to build below sea level or where hurricanes routinely visit, if you wish, but I shouldn't have to bail you out if you do." — Bill (Bellevue, NE)
"Those screaming over this issue are the same people who were screaming about getting money to the victims immediately. Let's find and prosecute the abusers, as it should be." — L.C. (Lake Charles, LA)
"FEMA does not need an overhaul; the people of New Orleans need the overhaul. How can people actually feel good about themselves while they take advantage of the system and others suffer as a result?" — Sam (Las Vegas, NV)
"The Justice Department should immediately launch a task force to prosecute those who falsely claimed benefits. FEMA is not equipped to investigate every claim. This is a law enforcement issue." — Steve (Chicago, IL)
"An overhaul may not be possible. It may be that the entire system needs to be scraped and something entirely new put in its place. Regardless, what we have now is broken." — Bob
"Of course it is time for an overhaul — in fact, an overhaul is way past due. I say we do away with FEMA altogether and make it SEMA, run by the states. This would take the burden off of the federal administration and make the money much more accessible." — Kathy (Walla Walla, WA)