Obama(S)care: Con Artists and Criminals in Charge

Question: If Obamacare officials cannot prevent accused embezzlers from infiltrating their offices, how can they protect enrollees from grifters, con artists and thieves in the federal health insurance exchange system?

Here in my home state, a director of Connect for Health Colorado — the state-sponsored Obamacare health insurance exchange — was just put on administrative leave. No, Christa Ann McClure did not go on leave over the chronic problems plaguing the cursed Connect for Health website. She’s on leave because she has been indicted for filching funds from her last employer in Montana.

No, the guardians of Obamacare didn’t smoke her out on their own. McClure ‘fessed up only after the local Billings (Mont.) Gazette newspaper reported on the charges against her. She was indicted by a grand jury on Jan. 16. But her current state government employers did not find out until last week, when McClure finally informed them because the press had published the indictment.

The Keystone Kops of the Colorado health exchange tell us they conducted “thorough” background checks of McClure. They say they “fully vetted” and investigated her references when they hired her last March for her six-figure job helming the state Obamacare office of “partner engagement.” Colorado officials say she was “well-qualified” for the Obamacare job, which involves being a “liaison” with other government agencies.

But mum’s the word on who recommended her, which references they talked to and who in Colorado Democratic circles might have known about her history in Montana.

The 12-page federal indictment is a blood-boiling document outlining government waste, fraud and abuse in the federal affordable housing racket. The feds say McClure siphoned untold amounts of money from the nonprofit group Housing Montana, which received a half-million-dollar federal grant to build homes for poor people.

McClure allegedly was paying herself “significant sums” for bogus “consulting services” while also taking a full-time salary as executive director of the nonprofit. She is accused of raiding the organization’s funds for family expenses, personal travel and a laptop and lying to the IRS to obtain false reimbursements. She further defrauded the government by inflating her unused sick and annual leave hours. The feds say she also bilked Montana homeowners who participated in the federal affordable housing program by charging them for a fake $750 warranty and a $1,000 fee for “leasing tools.”

Here’s another disturbing fact: In a classic dance of the lemons, McClure had bounced around successfully from government-funded job to job until now. The Montana state auditor’s office disclosed last week that McClure had managed three grants worth more than $2 million to implement Obamacare in that state. McClure worked on the project for three years at an annual salary of $98,000. She was “responsible for managing a broad range of contracts and making sure they got delivered on time,” according to The Billings Gazette.

To whom did she deliver them, you ask? State auditors will be trying to find out now. McClure faces trial in June and up to 20 years on each of the eight charges of fraud and embezzlement.

I’d like to be able to tell you that she’ll never work in another Obamacare job again. But take a look at California. Just a few weeks ago, Jillian Kay Melchior reported in National Review that “at least 43 convicted criminals are working as Obamacare navigators in California, including three individuals with records of significant financial crimes.” The crimes include forgery, petty theft, shoplifting, welfare fraud, child abuse and evading an officer.

Only the best to handle your private medical data and sensitive financial information!

And take a look at Oregon’s disastrous Obamacare exchange, Cover Oregon. While overseeing an over-budget and inoperable website subsidized to the tune of nearly $60 million in federal funds, project managers allegedly “initiated the design of dummy web pages to convince the federal government the project was further along than it actually was,” according to KATU-TV in Portland. A former Republican state legislator who served on the information technology oversight committee reported the whistleblowing allegations to the FBI. There is still no estimated completion date for the dysfunctional project, and the woman in charge of implementing the system is now in California, refusing to answer questions about her role.

“We have to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it,” Nancy Pelosi infamously brayed in 2010. Ever since, Obamacare has revealed its true and horrifying colors: It’s not salvation. It’s a criminal enterprise rooted in ideological fraud.

Michelle Malkin is the author of “Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies” (Regnery 2010). Her e-mail address is malkinblog@gmail.com.

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  • sjangers

    I don’t doubt that the Colorado health exchange did conduct a “thorough” background check and “fully vetted” her references before hiring Christa Ann McClure. The real question is one of how effective those processes were, and we now appear to have our answer.

    As someone who has spent many years working in human services, and someone who has been involved in more than a few exercises to help design “best practices” in service delivery, quality control, and even the hiring process, I can tell you that far too often the real goal of those exercises isn’t to ensure the highest quality of organizational function but rather to be able to avoid taking responsibility if something goes wrong down the road. When the emergency vehicles or the court officers with subpoenas show up in the parking lot, a good bureaucrat knows that a handful of documents demonstrating that they followed all their industry’s best practices can be a real comfort.

    “What happened? Wow! I have no idea how he could have done that. He was fully qualified for the job. Here we have the documents demonstrating that we followed all the best practices in hiring and training him. Here we have documents showing that he was properly supervised. We know that, because all the proper boxes are checked and there’s a signature from a staff member with the proper certification attesting that all the boxes were checked properly. Here I have that staff person’s personnel file showing that she had the proper certification. Her certification verification document has all the proper boxes checked and is signed by a staff person with the proper certification…”

    We put any awful lot of resources into making sure that no one (important) can be blamed when something inevitably goes wrong. That effort might not do much to ensure that the organization is doing a better job delivering quality services, it might even detract from resources that could be spent on delivering services, but at least no one (important) is going to take the fall if something bad happens.

    Unfortunately, it’s still not all that hard to con the system. It just takes a different skill set than it used to take fifty years ago. And sometimes the system is all too eager to con itself.

  • Wheels55

    The government continues to be the best place for cons to find a job.