California welfare cards spent in cruise ships, casinos

October 4, 2010

Just when it seems like we’ve heard about the worst in California government waste comes this nugget: More than $69 million has been withdrawn from state-issued welfare debit cards at casinos across the country and on cruise ships. [LA Times]

The newspaper documents that the aid cards have been used to spend or withdraw millions of dollars in benefits at popular vacation spots including the Las Vegas strip and on ships sailing from ports around the world.

California officials are cutting off use of state-issued welfare debit cards in response to the published reports.

More than $69 million meant to help the needy pay their rent and clothe their children was accessed in all 49 other states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam, according to data obtained by The Times from the California Department of Social Services.

Department of Social Services Director John Wagner said the move is part of the Schwarzenegger administration’s commitment to “rooting out waste, fraud and abuse in these programs” and “to ensure these resources are going to the people they are intended for.”

In June, the state cut off access to benefits in California casinos and strip clubs after The Times reported that the Electronic Benefits Transfer cards worked in those businesses too.



  1. thinkaboutit says:

    There’s a lot to be said about this issue and it isn’t as black and white as some would suggest.

    But a time worn principle comes into play when it comes to all this assessing, opinionating and pontificating: Pride comes before a fall.

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  2. hotdog says:

    While this abuse is terrible let’s put things in perspective. Welfare for the rich probably costs us many billions of dollars. That is where the real waste, fraud and abuse is. This covers everything from tax loopholes to special deals meted out by the legislature and others (such as the scandalous wages paid here i SLO to various employees) like the crooks in Bell, Caif. The big money is always stolen by the creeps in white belts and shoes, with a bag of golf clubs in the car (Beemer and up). The war profiteers (Cheney’s pals at Blackwater and Halliburton not to mention thousands of other major corporations sucking at the public tit) and many others have been bringing the county down for many decades, all the while waving american flags and singing ‘hail to the chief’ (as long as he’s a right wing republican).

    (4) 12 Total Votes - 8 up - 4 down
  3. ekppp says:

    What percentage of total California welfare card withdrawals is $69 million? I am not great at reading state budgets, but isn’t this a ~$7 billion dollar program? A little context would be nice.

    (0) 6 Total Votes - 3 up - 3 down
    • bulwark says:

      If EKPPP is correct, assuming Calif welfare costs a total of $7 Billion +/- then $69 Million is a shade less than 1%.

      Not quite sure what “a little context would be nice” means, but if he/she means the amount is inconsequential, well then with that thinking, we’re all screwed.

      Theft and greed is everywhere. Public & private employee unions game the system, politicians & their support lobbies game the system, appointed and elected public officials game the system or steal outright, parents as role models that cheat on everything from the government to their spouses, it goes on and on. Wall street, insurance companies, accounting firms that we’ve all trusted for oversight, everybody has succumbed to the fast buck. And yes, that includes farmers with their subsidies.

      We’re all in this together. Unless we can agree that we’re all to blame to varying degrees, this pain will continue. Pogo was right!

      (8) 8 Total Votes - 8 up - 0 down
  4. Rocky says:

    Why is it necessary to make this a race issue…it’s not. I know plenty of real live American citizens…white if you must who are doing the same thing you accuse illegal immigrants of doing. It amazes me that while they receive assistance they are able to afford cable television, cell phones and lets not forget the free ride they get for schooling. How about the other real live American citizens, black, white, brown who work two or three jobs and yet still can’t afford these types of luxuries? This is a crime no matter what race you are and all manner of people are doing it! To blame it all on one race is narrow minded bigotry! I agree there is massive abuse and I am 100% for making those who receive assistance give back by doing community work, park maintenance, street cleaning just to name a couple, but please get off the race card. As a side note, unless you are providing false documentation an illegal immigrant CANNOT receive aid! And can you tell me how many of the other races are providing false documentation to receive aid? That’s right they all do it so get off your high horse, blaming will not solve this problem.

    (5) 17 Total Votes - 11 up - 6 down
    • SLOBIRD says:

      For the record, illegal immigrants under certain substances do get food stamps. Google and check it out. But I do agree, this is not a race issue. I think everyone one of they folks holding the debit cards need to report to their social workers immediately and explain their actions and for those on the cruise should lose their benefits for at least a period of time. Who in this economy without losts of bucks in the bank is taking a cruise. Certainly not average Joe who keeps paying those taxes for these folks. Al least they should owe the taxpayers a month’s worth of work doing community service. Shame on each and everyone of the dirtbags. What is the government going to do, just stop the out-of-state purchases? Are they going to investigate or just let this go too, not a big deal, only $69 million…

      (10) 10 Total Votes - 10 up - 0 down
    • danika says:

      It isn’t just illegal immigrants. My sister, who is now 50, spent the majority of her adult life living on welfare. She had two children on welfare, one who went on to college (UCSB) under programs paid for, you guessed it, you and me. She wanted to be a fashion designer. She went to Australia to live for a year under a government student program paid for by our tax dollars. Now she works as a receiptionist somewhere in Illinois. She makes $15 per hour and has no student loan to repay. But she did graduate. Thank you, taxpayers. My sister has a steady job and is taking college courses she now has to pay for. But she declared bankruptcy in the spring…

      I know another young woman of 32 who lives on welfare and has 2 young sons, now pregnant with a third son. We have paid for all her care, food, and necessities for the last 5 years. She is not hispanic and is quite capable of working. Thank you, taxpayers.

      There are plenty of people of all walks of life ready to extend their hand to the social service programs. I am not one of them.

      (12) 12 Total Votes - 12 up - 0 down
    • danika says:

      You do realize the IRS does not require a Social Security Number be provided in order for the illegals to pay their federal taxes, rights? They are given a special number in order to do this. That number is also used to obtain federal aid, mortgages, and other financial aid. The system indeed supports their illegal status and gives them assistance without requiring them to provide false documentation.

      Community work to pay off their debt for obtaining assistance is not the answer. They should not be here in the first place. It is ILLEGAL. Illegal is illegal in every dictionary. They should be deported and assistance provided to reintroduce them back into this country LEGALLY. I have no problem with anyone who comes to America to seek betterment…they must do it legally. They are not entitled to ignore laws that everyone else must abide by.

      (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down
  5. danika says:

    Like my hubby’s bumper sticker says: “Work harder. Millions of people depend on you!”. That has been on his truck for 15 years and it STILL applies to our welfare programs. How sad.

    (16) 16 Total Votes - 16 up - 0 down
  6. easymoney says:

    “WELFARE FRAUD!? Say it isn’t so.”

    And people wonder why this state is in the tank economically… Time to vote for reform.

    (13) 13 Total Votes - 13 up - 0 down
  7. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    WELFARE FRAUD!? Say it isn’t so. I remember that Reagan talked about how much money we could save as a nation if we cut the abuse of welfare, about 25 years ago. Of course everybody said he was being a mean old man. Well here we are twenty five years later and it still goes on. How many more years do we keep watching the fraud?

    How many of us have joked about watching some a-hole in line in front of us buying all the name brand stuff, as we are using coupons and buying off brand to streach our work dollars and then the jerk pulls out a fist full of food stamps!! I don’t mind helping people in need but this kind of stuff really stinks. And I am tired of people that say they are rare incents. If so rare why does it seem so many of us see it???

    (18) 18 Total Votes - 18 up - 0 down
    • BeenThereDoneThat says:

      P.S. on the Reagan thing. It was shown at the time that they traced welfare checks that were being used to buy guns. Not a few, a LOT! It was in the news at the time.

      (5) 9 Total Votes - 7 up - 2 down
    • SLOBIRD says:

      Can’t be to rare for $69 million and this does not include the millions discovered months ago at the State Casinos. Enough, where are the work program for these freeloaders. Put them to work in our decaying parks if they want money. I was at the store the other day and three, yes three immigrant families in front of me all had food stamps and none of them spoke English. One was angry because they thought they were being overcharged. Give me a break!

      (15) 15 Total Votes - 15 up - 0 down
      • BeenThereDoneThat says:

        I agree. How about the work programs (like W.P.A.) from the New Deal era of the Depression. They put men to work, (no handouts) and taught them a skill. No the A.C.L.U. says you can’t degrade these poor people. No let them degrade themselves being freeloaders instead.

        (16) 16 Total Votes - 16 up - 0 down
    • Robert1 says:

      This has gone on way to long-L.A. County welfare to children of illegal immigrants grows to $52 million in July-

      (9) 9 Total Votes - 9 up - 0 down

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