November 4, 2013
Office of the Attorney General
State of Louisiana
P.O. Box 94005
Baton Rouge, LA 70821
Office of the Secretary
Department of Children and Family Services
P.O. Box 3776
Baton Rouge, LA 70821
Dear Attorney General Caldwell and Secretary Sonnier:
Thank you for your quick responses to my letter of October 30 regarding the outrageous incidents of food stamp theft and fraud in Louisiana on October 14.
Thank you also for clearly committing to not reimburse any vendor above any beneficiaries' benefit limits, my first request. Unfortunately, in contrast to this, I found your responses to my second and third requests really disappointing and inadequate.
My second request urged you to disqualify or suspend from the program beneficiaries guilty of this theft and fraud. In response to this, you basically stated that you are asking permission to pursue suspensions from the program from the Obama administration, namely USDA. Why? All relevant law clearly gives the state authority to administer the program, including authority to disqualify or suspend those guilty of theft or fraud (7 USC 2015(b)). You clearly do not have to get federal permission to do this with regard to every individual enforcement action.
So I again urge you to take such action in these cases without first asking permission unnecessarily from the Obama administration. Given the administration's support for the almost limitless expansion of the food stamp program, I think their granting this unnecessary permission unlikely.
My third request urged you to prosecute these same beneficiaries. In response to this, you stated that this decision is up to the retailers involved. No, it isn't. Such a prosecuting decision is always up to the public prosecutor with appropriate jurisdiction. Walmart and other retailers no doubt want to pass on urging prosecution because they screwed up and, quite frankly, because they benefit from most food stamp fraud in their stores.
So again, I urge you to form a task force with the prosecutors in the local jurisdictions involved to aggressively prosecute these crimes. As I stated in my October 30 letter, these prosecutions will be fully supported by ample computer/EBT account evidence and do not depend on the active cooperation of the retailers involved.
I would like to personally meet with both of you in Baton Rouge to discuss this further in the very near future. Thank you again for your service to Louisiana.