Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards (the debit card equivalent of food stamps) have been at the center of a heated national discussion on welfare reform. There have been numerous reports of EBT card abuse and some states have started cracking down on card holders. Of course, whenever someone talks about welfare reform, one side of the political spectrum claims it's "racially motivated."
However, even those claims might be put aside for a moment in Massachusetts after a heroin allegedly posted bail with his EBT card.
“A convicted drug dealer…is the new face of welfare abuse, according to tough-minded lawmakers who are pushing...for a crackdown,” John Zaremba and Chris Cassidy of the Boston Herald write.
Kimball Clark, 45, was arrested on Friday on drug related charges -- again. Yeah, he’s a multiple offender.
While making his one phone call, police overheard him say: “get my EBT card and go to the ATM and get the money to bail me out, get me outa’ here tonight.”
Obviously, the thought of convicted felon using his taxpayer-funded EBT to post bail isn't sitting well with a lot of people.
“It’s another outrage,” said Rep. Shaunna O’Connell (R-MA), who criticizes the state for failing to push tough restrictions on the cards.
“When we were on the EBT Card Commission, I fought to get bail bondsmen on that list of places where people could not use their EBT cards. They fought me on it and told me people can’t use their EBT cards in that way,” the representative added.
See the Fox 25 news update (via Washington Free Beacon):
Another state representative, Rep. Russell Holmes (D-MA), said he was “hardly surprised that a drug suspect would try to bail himself out with money from a taxpayer-funded EBT card,” according to the Boston Herald
“It’s exactly the type of activity that can occur when folks are allowed to get money off their EBT card,” Rep. Holmes said.
Oh, yeah, and because it's difficult to trace cash withdrawn from ATMs, it's feared the problem is widespread.
“One of the arguments I’ve heard is we don’t know how much fraud and abuse there is. But that’s the problem -- we don’t know because there’s no way to track it. When it comes to how much of this has happened in jail, there’s no way for us to know that,” Rep. Holmes said.
Clark, whose past charges include assault and battery and cocaine possession, posted bail and was released.
Front page photo source: Boston Herald