Seedco: Oba­macare’s fraud-stained nav­i­ga­tors

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Michelle Malkin

Wel­come to Oba­maWreck! Amer­i­cans na­tion­wide spent Tues­day strug­gling with the much-hyped “Af­ford­able Care Act” health insurance ex­changes. Server melt­downs, er­ror mes­sages and se­cu­rity glitches plagued the fed­eral and state gov­ern­ment web­sites as open en­roll­ment be­gan. But when tax­pay­ers dis­cover ex­actly who will be nav­i­gat­ing them through the bu­reau­cratic maze, they may be glad they didn’t get through.

U.S. Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Sec­re­tary Kath­leen Se­be­lius con­trols a $54 mil­lion slush fund to hire thou­sands of “nav­i­ga­tors,” “in-per­son as­sis­ters” and coun­selors, who are now pro­pa­gan­diz­ing and re­cruit­ing Oba­macare re­cip­i­ents into the gov­ern­ment-run ex­changes. As I warned in May, the Nanny State nav­i­ga­tor corps is a se­ri­ous threat to Amer­i­cans’ pri­vacy. Back­ground checks and train­ing re­quire­ments are min­i­mal to nonex­is­tent. A his­tory of fraud is no bar­rier to en­try.

Case in point: the seedy non­profit Seedco. This com­mu­nity-or­ga­niz­ing group snagged lu­cra­tive mul­ti­mil­lion­dol­lar nav­i­ga­tor con­tracts in Ge­or­gia, Mary­land, Ten­nessee and New York. The New York Post re­ports this week that the out­fit “is part­ner­ing with dozens of agen­cies, such as the Gay Men’s Health Cri­sis, Food Bank for New York City and the Chi­nese Amer­i­can Plan­ning Coun­cil, in each of (the Big Ap­ple’s) five bor­oughs.” They’ll have ac­cess to po­ten­tial en­rollees’ in­come lev­els, birth­dates, ad­dresses, el­i­gi­bil­ity for gov­ern­ment as­sis­tance, So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers and in­tensely per­sonal med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion.

Given the enor­mous re­spon­si­bil­ity to han­dle sen­si­tive data in a care­ful, neu­tral man­ner, com­bined with the over­whelm­ing pres­sure to boost Oba­macare en­roll­ments, you’d think the feds would only choose nav­i­ga­tors with the most im­pec­ca­ble records. Yet, less than a year ago, Seedco agreed to set­tle a civil fraud law­suit “for fak­ing at least 1,400 of 6,500 job place­ments un­der a $22.2 mil­lion fed­er­ally funded con­tract with the city.”

Seedco’s cor­rupt be­hav­ior went far be­yond de­fraud­ing tax­pay­ers through abuse of New York City pro­grams, fed­eral La­bor Depart­ment fund­ing and fed­eral stim­u­lus dol­lars. Seedco (which stands for “Struc­tured Em­ploy­ment Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion”) tried to de­stroy and de­fame whistle­blow­ing of­fi­cial Bill Harper, who dis­cov­ered and re­ported the ram­pant fal­si­fi­ca­tion of data.

First, Seedco de­nied the charges; next, they trashed Harper’s rep­u­ta­tion in the pages of The New York Times. Only af­ter the U.S. At­tor­ney’s of­fice in Man­hat­tan brought suit did the or­ga­ni­za­tion ac­knowl­edge sys­temic, re­peated wrong­do­ing. Seedco forked over a $1.7 mil­lion set­tle­ment in De­cem­ber 2012. Mere months later, they were rack­ing up fed­eral Oba­macare nav­i­ga­tor work.

The feds and Seedco as­sure us that new man­age­ment is in place. They re­ar­ranged some deck chairs, cre­ated a new “com­pli­ance pro­gram” and hired an in­de­pen­dent re­viewer. But an ethos of by-any-means-nec­es­sary book-cook­ing and a cul­ture of in­tim­i­dat­ing whistle­blow­ers don’t dis­ap­pear overnight. Seedco shred­ded doc­u­ments for three years to phony up their job place­ment sta­tis­tics; city gov­ern­ment over­seers knew about it. The Non­profit Quar­terly noted that Seedco’s fraud was “kind of breath­tak­ing” in its “cre­ativ­ity and il­le­gal au­dac­ity,” in­clud­ing:

“Tak­ing credit for a job can­di­date’s prior em­ploy­ment as job place­ments;

Re­port­ing job place­ments when the job can­di­dates re­mained un­em­ployed; Fal­si­fy­ing dates of job place­ments; Us­ing other Seedco pro­grams to col­lect in­for­ma­tion on clients in or­der to falsely re­port job place­ments; and

Re­port­ing job place­ments for peo­ple who were not Seedco clients and had not been placed in their jobs by Seedco.”

The feds de­tailed how Seedco man­agers would in­struct cler­i­cal work­ers to troll Mon­ and Ca­reerbuilder. com for re­sumes and then “re­port the em­ploy­ment of in­di­vid­u­als sourced from those down­loaded re­sumes as job place­ments.” Other em­ploy­ees ex­ploited their re­la­tion­ships with busi­nesses to “gather in­for­ma­tion from the busi­nesses’ cur­rent em­ploy­ees. Seedco then used that in­for­ma­tion to falsely re­port that em­ploy­ment as a job place­ment ob­tained for the can­di­date by Seedco, al­though the in­di­vid­u­als had no prior re­la­tion­ship with Seedco and had not been re­cruited into the job by Seedco.”

This en­tire gov­ern­ment-non­profit al­liance rests on dra­goon­ing as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble into gov­ern­ment pro­grams, in­clud­ing food stamps, CHIP (the fed­eral Chil­dren’s Health Insurance Pro­gram) and now Oba­macare. One of Seedco’s of­fi­cials ac­tu­ally said the fraud case “made us a stronger or­ga­ni­za­tion.” Yes, they ac­tu­ally sold their deliberate num­ber-fudg­ing as an as­set in­stead of a li­a­bil­ity. And four states swal­lowed the pitch whole. The spirit of fraud-stained ACORN and its Nanny State prog­eny lives.

So, buy­ers, be­ware: Oba­macare se­cu­rity “glitches” are not just a bug. They’re a fea­ture.

Michelle Malkin is the au­thor of “Cul­ture of Cor­rup­tion: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies,” Her e-mail ad­dress is malk­in­blog@

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