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Inside Nikki Haley’s “Welfare To Work” Scam




In a preview of forthcoming testimony about S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s embattled welfare agency, employees at the scandal-scarred S.C. Department of Social Services (SCDSS) tell FITS that “welfare to work” gains promoted by the administration are completely illusory.

As in phantoms of the governor’s overactive imagination …

Not only that, these employees are ready to explain publicly how the agency manipulates data to fool the public into thinking thousands of dependents are being “lifted up out of poverty.’

To recap: In October 2012 Seanna Adcox of the Associated Press (Haley’s go-to “reporter”) published an exclusive report touting these so-called “welfare to work” gains at SCDSS. Previously, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier ran a glowing editorial praising Haley’s agency along the same lines.

“DSS Director Lillian Koller adjusted the focus of the agency’s staff, and since then the number of people who moved into jobs from welfare rolls has more than doubled,” the Post and Courier gushed.

“The staff is spending extra energy on behalf of those most likely to be hired,” the Post editorial added, saying that the agency’s job development specialists had “buckled down to persuade more employers to consider welfare candidates.”

Really …

Haley herself has touted SCDSS’ welfare to work gains as part of her “Jobs Governor” schtick.

“I have been beyond thrilled with the leadership Lillian Koller has been showing,” Haley said at a press conference last October. “What we are announcing today is that Lillian and her team at DSS have taken 12,298 people that were on welfare and put them to work.”

As of January 2014, Haley’s administration says that figure has crossed the 20,000 threshold.

“Lillian has, through good corporate partners that were willing to take them on, gone and said ‘You deserve better, and this is how we’re going to get you there,'” Haley added. “I want to one, thank her, and also thank the companies that were willing to say ‘Yes, we want to be a part of the solution, and not continue to complain about the problem.'”

One big happy success story, right?

Wrong …

The day after Haley’s press conference, this website quoted sources at the agency as saying Koller was “giving out false or padded stats.”

“She’s counting people who have been suspended from the program for a month or two, for not following some procedure, and then who reapply and are accepted in the program again,” the source explains.  ”It’s a totally manufactured number.”

Apparently, such deception was (is) just the tip of the iceberg …

According to multiple agency sources familiar with the procedures for “closing” welfare cases, there are multiple ways in which SCDSS is continuing to manipulate its data.

One of the most common methods involves applicants who already have jobs being approved for welfare benefits. One of these dependents, named “Jane,” reportedly applied for family independence payments last September and was approved the following month.

According to one of our agency sources, Jane “only applied for welfare because she needed child care assistance in order to keep her job.”

“She had the job before she applied for the benefits,” our source said.

Four months later the benefits stopped and Jane’s case was filed as a “DX” closure.

(Jane has since been back in the system, we’re told).

Another common “case closure” method is transferring dependents from the SCDSS dole to federal unemployment insurance – a cyclical “welfare-to-welfare” process that permits dependents to bounce back and forth between various welfare programs.

These are referred to within the agency as “UI” case closures.

Still other cases listed as “CX” closures are the result of the agency manipulating its child support system – another epic failure of Koller’s administration.

In shuffling these dependents back and forth between bureaucracies, SCDSS also neglects to acknowledge how many “closed cases” are tied to the same individual.

“Many – if not most – of the new cases we ‘close’ are repeat applicants,” one of our sources explains.

Meanwhile, many new “workers” who actually take jobs receive a significant portion of their wages from the federal government. In fact businesses pay only half of the $9.00/ hour wage most of them receive – while the feds pay the rest. Not only that, the government is picking up the tab for day care and transportation for these new “workers.”

Like we said … “welfare to welfare.”

Nikki Haley claimed in her 2014 State of the State address that her administration has taken more than 20,000 South Carolinians on welfare and put them to work. That claim – like previous job figures touted by Haley – is patently false.

And in the few instances in which new jobs are to be had – taxpayers are subsidizing a huge percentage of the bill.

No wonder the governor’s office is working overtime attempting to manipulate the investigation into this agency …

Pic: Travis Bell Photography