Naturally, a spokesperson for Rhode Island Housing is poo-pooing the size of the dollar amounts, but Rhode Island’s share of questionable expenditures in a federal housing program is shocking. Dan McGowan and Walt Buteau report on WPRI:
Rhode Island Housing is one of 19 agencies throughout the country accused of misusing $3 million in federal funds earmarked for homeowner relief, according to an audit released last month by the office of the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP).
The 93-page audit identified $1.2 million in unnecessary expenditures by Rhode Island Housing, including funds spent on a new customer center, severance payments for former employees and marketing costs.
That’s nineteen agencies, and little Rhode Island accounts for 40% of the questionable expenditures. In other words, for every $2.50 that the audit is challenging across the country, RI Housing accounts for $1.00. Whether the folks at RI Housing are correct that the auditors were misguided, one must wonder why it is that our little state was notably caught up in that difference of opinion.
My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that the Obama administration liked just about any government spending. Indeed, spending money (which means having to collect it, somehow) was arguably its highest goal. And Rhode Island government is particular adept at finding ways to spend money. Winks and nods come cheaply in such interactions.
However these allegations may shake out, Rhode Islanders should take the opportunity to consider, once again, whether we’re well served by a government that seems always to be funneling money to itself and its employees.