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Liberal politicians have been saying for years that there is no fraud in Maine’s welfare system. They say allegations of fraud are just anecdotal. Well folks, the facts are proving them wrong.

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

In just the past couple of weeks, several Mainers have been charged with welfare fraud. A Berwick couple was indicted for falsely reporting their incomes and claiming they were unemployed when they actually had jobs.

A Lewiston couple is now on trial for stealing thousands of dollars in housing assistance. They claimed they had no assets, but they owned a profitable business and paid cash to buy buildings.

A woman in Lewiston has been charged with fraudulently taking about $10,000 worth of welfare benefits, including food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, also known as TANF, and housing assistance.

These are not anecdotes. These are real cases involving the theft of taxpayers’ money that should be going to Mainers who are truly needy.

It is easy to say there is no fraud when you don’t look for it. Our administration is looking to eliminate fraud. This will allow us to help more of the truly needy. In addition, our welfare reforms have already reduced TANF cases by 41 percent. But we know there is much more to be done.

That is why we will continue to look for fraud, especially with EBT cards. These cards come with generous cash benefits, but too often that cash is not going to feed children or provide the basic necessities for families.

Cash from EBT cards is used to buy illegal drugs, to bail people out of jail, to purchase alcohol and to buy lottery tickets. This is not the purpose of welfare.

Maine’s taxpayers should not be working hard every day to provide financial assistance to criminals or others who are abusing the system.

Welfare should go to our neediest citizens, our elderly and our disabled. It should be available for those who need a hand up during a difficult time, not those trying to game the system.

That’s why our administration will continue to crack down on welfare fraud. If you suspect someone of abusing welfare, please call the fraud hotline: 207-287-2409.

Thank you for listening.

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