Dunn proposes whistleblower reporting system to uncover COVID-19 relief fraud
King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn on Thursday introduced legislation that would establish a whistleblower hotline for reporting illegitimate uses of emergency COVID-19 funds, in an effort to catch any attempts to scam the system.
“As we are seeing historic increases in inflation, taxpayers are rightly concerned with how their hard-earned dollars are being spent, and elected leaders at all levels should be acting as watchdogs under that same mindset,” Dunn said. “With such a large influx of money rapidly moving through our County to provide critical aid to restaurants, small businesses, and folks on the margins during COVID-19, there almost certainly will also be a few scammers seeking to abuse the system for their own financial gain. It is my hope that with this legislation we will be able to catch bad actors and safeguard the communities that these funds were meant to support.”
If passed, this legislation would task King County with creating a hotline and reporting system that employees and residents of King County could use to report possible fraud, waste, and abuse of the over $2 billion of federal taxpayer dollars that King County appropriated for COVID-19 relief from funds including the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
This legislation comes after recent discussion on fraud in the COVID-19 relief programs in the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, an independent oversight committee created by Congress, which highlighted improper payments that were made to applicants who should have been ineligible to receive the funds and the need for better data collection. This also comes after King County acknowledged the misuse of millions of dollars of rental assistance payments. So far, the County has uncovered at least 130 cases of inappropriate rental assistance payments ranging from $20,000 to $45,000.
This legislation will be referred to the Council’s Government Oversight and Accountability Committee in the coming weeks.
Posted By Yoder, 7/21/2022