Las Vegas and Alaska were two of the other far-flung destinations taxpayer-funded EBT cards showed up, state welfare records show.
The transactions in Las Vegas were for cash withdrawals at Bank of America to Wells Fargo Bank, records show. Other Vegas expenditures were for food, Walmart, Family Dollar and Revel Oil.
In Alaska, Massachusetts-issued cards were used in Palmer, Wasilla and Anchorage, records show.
The Herald reviewed more than 2 million EBT transactions for Fiscal Year 2019, with cards being used in Alaska almost every month of the year.
California and Florida were also popular, records show. Marty’s Liquors in Los Angeles — a “wine, beer and spirits” stop — and the RaceTrac in Kissimmee, Fla., where “whatever gets you going” was on sale at the gas stop, EBT entries state.
The Deleware State Fair, the 7/11 on Highway 105 in Monument, Co., and a Trackside Truck Stop in Eutaw, Ala., were also listed on the EBT report.
The out-of-state transactions, said Republican state Rep. Shaunna O’Connell, raises questions.
“We want to make sure we’re helping the people who need help and we want to make sure that they’re using the money for its intended purpose,” said O’Connell, who is leaving the Legislature to become mayor in her hometown of Taunton. “We’re helping people to get to a better place in life where they become self-sufficient, so I think having more controls and checks and balances on how people spend their funds is important to achieving that.”
The state Department of Transitional Assistance did not address any specific out-of-state transaction — including ones in Hawaii — but shared agency rules that state if an EBT card is exclusively used out of state for 45 days, a household must provide proof of current Massachusetts residence.
The cash used came from EBT cards from the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children and Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children. Food stamps were not included in the data shared.
“A lot of children are involved in these families who get that cash assistance, we want to make sure that children are being taken care of,” O”Connell added.
The DTA said in an email to the Herald that the agency “has a dedicated program integrity unit that is focused on identifying potential areas of fraud and abuse and continuously strengthening internal controls.”
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