As the head of South Carolina’s “Office on Aging,” Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer has a task force to investigate “Senior Fraud.”
Maybe he needs to investigate his own office.
That’s because new details are emerging about the Senior Scam that has Bauer, his chief-of-staff Jim Miles and Spartanburg businesswoman Karen Floyd scrambling to justify how taxpayer resources keep going to support a money-making scheme that exploits the very senior citizens Bauer’s “Office on Aging” is sworn to protect.
Last November, the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier first exposed the “Senior Shield” scam when it revealed that $85,000 in public money was funneled through the Office on Aging to “Senior Shield LLC,” a for-profit corporation established by Bauer’s chief-of-staff Jim Miles.
Most of this money was promptly sent to Karen Floyd’s Palladian Group, which has been hired to market the scam.
Floyd – who is currently running for SCGOP chairman – is also making thousands of dollars as Lt. Governor’s political fund-raiser, which raises additional ethical questions.
Basically, “Senior Shield” sells the Lt. Governor’s “blessing” to South Carolina businesses, awarding them a “Senior-Friendly” designation they can slap on their store windows and promotional materials – provided, of course, they fork over nearly $200 a year to Senior Shield.
It’s a total scam – and a taxpayer-funded one at that.
Since the Post and Courier report was published last year, Senior Shield has supposedly gone from a for-profit to a not-for-profit, but sources tell FITS the “for-profit” scam is still ongoing.
That’s because “Senior Shield” – whose Floyd-drafted marketing plan began to crumble under the weight of all the bad press – is now having to seek out new sources of income.
And surprise, surprise … they’re using taxpayer-funded resources again.
Specifically, Senior Shield is availing itself of an online directory called SC Access – which is supposed to be a free government service provided by the Office on Aging.
This directory – which cost $1.2 million in taxpayer dollars to create – is billed as “a guide to available resources for older adults, people with disabilities, their family members and caregivers in South Carolina.”
It’s also apparently a fertile ground for the “Senior Scammers” to make money.
According to an e-mail obtained by FITS, SC Access is now being blatantly exploited to pad the pocket of “Senior Shield,” which means more money for Miles and Floyd.
Under the guise of protecting the public, SC Access is “adopting” Senior Shield to “verify” that the businesses which are listed by this taxpayer-funded directory are “legitimate.”
From the e-mail pitch:
“… effective July 1, 2009, businesses and service providers will be required to be background checked and verified by Senior Shield if they are to be listed on SC Access.
SC Access will be utilizing Senior Shield, powered by SeniorChecked, to manage the application, verification and technology. As a currently listed organization, you are encouraged to take the next steps to maintain your listing.
What are the next steps?
Paying “Senior Scam,” of course – which is why the e-mail provides several “limited-time discounts” ranging from $135 – $175.
Not surprisingly, a cut of that money will go to Miles’ 501(c)3, which you may remember prior to the Post and Courier story running last November was a limited liability corporation.
Amazingly, interim Office of Aging director Tony Kester is the point of contact for this scam.
This is outrageous, people.
And Bauer, Miles and Floyd should be ashamed of themselves.
Taxpayers created this service to provide seniors with information, not so the Lt. Governor’s Office on Aging could “require” South Carolina businesses to cough up cash to Miles and Floyd.
Again, these are the people who are supposed to be protecting seniors from scams, not getting in on the scamming.
Keep in mind that Miles is doing all this while drawing a $97,970 taxpayer-funded salary.
Meanwhile, Kester is making $98,228 a year courtesy of the taxpayers.
And as noted previously, Floyd’s firm got over $80,000 worth of tax dollars for its work on “Senior Scam.”
Instead of doing the jobs we are paying them to do, though, these people are effectively blackmailing businesses into paying them so that they can remain listed on a directory that the taxpayers have already paid for.
That can’t be legal, can it?
Bauer’s “Office on Aging” has stunk to high heaven ever since Miles and Floyd got involved, and frankly, it’s about time somebody started investigating its operations.
After all, how can we trust these people to protect our seniors if they are in on the scams?