While volunteering for the Minnesota Center for the Aging and being trained to assist seniors with food stamp applications, retired millionaire Rob Undersander who was drawing very little income at the time, noticed that the eligibility for this federally funded welfare program was based solely on income. So, out of curiosity, he applied and to his surprise, he qualified for $278 a month even after he fully disclosed his assets to the local welfare fraud officials.
Undersander said, “I was doing some work for the Central Minnesota council on Aging, receiving formal training for that and they passed out SNAP applications in the event we would help seniors fill them out and explained that eligibility in Minnesota is based on income only. In comparison to many other programs that they had taught us about that are based on ascending levels of income and assets. In other words, if a person has money in the bank, 10, 20,000, whatever, in my case more, they are not eligible, should not be eligible for food stamps in my case. But they said eligibility only. My wife and I were retired, drawing very little income, and I thought I might be eligible for this. So I filled out. Took it to the county and three weeks later, I’m getting food stamps.
Because of his integrity as an upright citizen and this clearly broken SNAP or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program of the US Department of Agriculture, Undersander naturally contacted his state senator Republican, Jeff Howe to get this obvious mistake corrected. However, both Democrats in Minnesota and Washington not only didn’t welcome this whistleblowing but also accused him of fraud.
Undersander said, “I’m really somewhat appalled. So I contacted my State Senator Jeff Howe and Jeff you can tell them what happened then.” Howe said, “We started working on this, I believe, back in 2016. Wrote some legislation. We basically took what used to be the federal asset test and applied that. And what happened was we struggled to get a hearing. And when we did get a hearing, it was pretty ugly. Instead of trying to help us find common ground on how we actually make this program work and close those loopholes, they actually attacked Mr. Undersander and accused him of doing wrongdoing when actually the county fraud investigators looked at him and actually said that he did everything above board. He didn’t do anything wrong.”
Howe added, “We actually had a pretty good bill this last year and they (the Democrats) still, instead of trying to help us find common ground. They pushed back and said no there’s no problem. There’s very few people doing this. We don’t know how big the problem is and unless we put the parameters up and close the loophole that allows this to happen, we will never know how big the problem is,” Undersander said. “Yesterday, we took our story to the nation’s capital. I was invited to attend a congressional hearing, the House Aide committee and had almost an identical response. The Democrats wanted to send me to jail. The irony is that I was complying with laws that they support.”
At that hearing of the House Agriculture Committee’s Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations panel, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), said that Undersander “intentionally defrauded the federal government.” While the subcommittee’s ranking minority member, Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) described him as “A man with assets in the millions—who was able to receive more than a nominal SNAP benefit month after month because of Minnesota’s abuses of their administrative flexibility. Mr. Undersander didn’t lie on his forms. He exposed the flaws of a failed system and it’s not his fault that we in D.C. haven’t done our job. Receiving a welfare check shouldn’t be easier than applying for a job. If millionaires are receiving those benefits—as they have—this committee has work to do.”
Includes reporting from the Daily Signal