O’Keefe’s latest sting target: Medicaid bureaucrats

posted at 1:20 pm on July 18, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

There are eerie moments of deja vu in James O’Keefe’s latest project in his self-described “muckraking” enterprise.  This time, O’Keefe turns his sights on Medicaid bureaucrats in Ohio rather than ACORN or Planned Parenthood — although the latter does get a cameo mention.  Once again, O’Keefe and his team pose as criminals seeking assistance in getting government money to support their businesses, only this time directly rather than through activist organizations:

The first video in the series shows government employees in Ohio assisting two men who have described themselves as Russian drug smugglers with applications for Medicaid.

In the video, the men explain to Ohio Medicaid workers that they are Russian immigrants who sell illegal drugs, drive a modified McLaren F1 sports car with a gold-coated engine, and use their underage sisters to perform sexual favors in exchange for drugs.

In response, Ohio employees tasked with disbursing federal Medicaid dollars are shown coaching the men through the process of applying for benefits. “If it’s not something registered here, maybe I just wouldn’t mention it,” a Franklin County Medicaid officer named Traci Daniels tells the men, when asked whether they should mention owning a vehicle that retails for nearly $1 million, as they apply for government aid designed to help poor people. “Not that I can say that. You didn’t hear that from me. But, that would right there, that would throw him off. He would be immediately not qualified.”

Er, shouldn’t Medicaid officials try to stop fraud rather than helping those who want to conduct it? O’Keefe discusses the video at his Project Veritas site:

The first investigation released focuses on four Medicaid offices in Ohio. The undercover reporters intimate that they are drug dealers, drive expensive cars, and are not U.S citizens. At no time did the case workers ask the reporters to leave. Even though the reporters admit to making their living through drug dealing or facilitating child prostitution, the case workers never called the police, Child Protective Services or the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In fact, the case workers appear eager to assist the reporters in filling out the necessary Medicaid paperwork.

When one of the reporters inquires about Medicaid for his sick father, he asks that if it will be a problem if he sells the “herbal remedy,” the case worker replies: “Well, I mean, it doesn’t matter what kind of work he does.”

The video begins with a report from The Columbus Dispatch that says it costs Ohio $15.4 billion per year to run the Medicaid program—or $29,000 per minute.

“In this time of economic uncertainty, the American people deserve to know how their tax dollars are being wasted.” said James O’Keefe. “This is hardly an isolated incident. Government workers willing to aid people with criminal backgrounds and great wealth, should be an outrage to every America.

Because of O’Keefe’s controversial past, expect plenty of pushback on these videos. O’Keefe clearly anticipates just such a reaction, which is why he includes the complete video at the end of his presentation in the YouTube above. Watch it all the way through, especially for the discussion about the “nature of babysitting.”

Breaking on Hot Air