Arizona Republican Rep. Andy Biggs questioned whether millions of dollars meant to offset economic damage due to COVID-19 lockdowns will actually be distributed to small businesses across the country that are on the brink of being wiped out.
Biggs, who is Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, appeared on Fox Business network last week with host David Asman. He pointed out that the CARES Act, which allocated $2.2 billion to COVID-19, did not have sufficient accountability to monitor where the funding was being allocated. He said the enormity of the funding, combined with the vast designations of how the package was to be divided among businesses made it easier for some to take advantage of the stimulus funding.
One major example, was a recent report from Fox News revealing a “highly questionable” $35 million contract that was awarded by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to a firm linked to President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign. Republicans with the House Oversight and House Administration Committees are demanding an investigation and saying it was a “misuse of taxpayer money and a violation of the law.”
According to Fox News, Padilla’s office allegedly allocated the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) grant money from the coronavirus stimulus package, known as the CARES Act, to fund a voter contract with SKD Knickerbocker. The firm is a public affairs and political consulting firm.
Republicans say that it is “Joe Biden’s main election campaign advisory firm.”
“What we have here is the California Secretary of State, secretary Padilla – here’s the deal, you’re not supposed to use HAVA, which is Help America Vote Act money to do voter outreach or voter contact at anytime, regardless of where the money is, specifically here,” said Biggs. “So he awards a $35 million contract, no bid – accelerated contract – to a firm associated with the Biden family.”
He added the money should have been allocated “to small business owners that are in trouble” and is demanding an investigation.
I certainly hope there is an investigation into this apparent misuse of funding and power. What happened to all the small business owners who have lost everything and their families because of these massive unnecessary lockdowns? Who’s going to help them and why should a public relations firm receive $35 million anyway?
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Show me the money! Report shows U.S. unable to show effectiveness of $3 billion spent in Mexico
The U.S. government has spent more than $3 billion in Mexico to reduce drug trafficking and transnational crime since 2008; unfortunately, little can be shown for it.
A report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that “the U.S. government cannot demonstrate that it is achieving its goals in Mexico and that its investments, at over $3 billion since 2008, have been spent effectively.”
The Center Square writes that the U.S. money going to Mexico was intended to mitigate transnational organized crime and violence in Mexico, enhance the country’s rule of law and reduce drug trafficking to the United States. The report discusses work of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
“Specifically, the United States relies on Mexico to help manage cross-border crime and migrant smuggling, and Mexico relies on the United States to disrupt the flow of firearms into Mexico and decrease the U.S. demand for drugs,” according to the report.
“Firearms from the United States fuel violence in Mexico” the report continues. In 2021, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported that about 70% of firearms seized in Mexico from 2014 through 2018 and submitted for tracing originated in the United States.
As for drugs, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, cartels in Mexico supply most of the cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and illicit fentanyl smuggled into the United States.
“Despite ongoing security assistance, the security situation in Mexico has significantly worsened over the last 15 years. From 2007 to 2021, the homicide rate in Mexico more than tripled to one of the highest national homicide rates in the world, from eight homicides per 100,000 people to 28 per 100,000 people, according to the United Nations,” according to the report. “Meanwhile, Mexico has extremely low rates of prosecution for all crimes, according to the 2022 State Department Human Rights Report on Mexico.”
The report states two additional problems are less cooperation from Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and corruption.
“The López Obrador administration, which took office in late 2018, reduced security cooperation with the United States at the federal level,” states the report. “This limited some programs, according to U.S. officials.”
Furthermore, “High levels of impunity and corruption in Mexico impede the rule of law and limit potential partnerships for State/INL and USAID,” according to the report. “For example, State’s 2022 human rights report stated that some Mexican government officials were complicit with international organized criminal groups, but these officials were rarely prosecuted or convicted.”
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