As the Trump regime continues to eliminate federal inspectors general and replace them with loyalists who will do nothing as far as oversight, the last bastion of the IG community is warning that the two trillion dollars in CARES funds being spent by the regime is ripe for massive abuse by Trump and his cronies.
The Trump administration’s intensifying efforts to block oversight of its coronavirus-related rescue programs are raising new alarms with government watchdogs and lawmakers from both parties amid concerns about the anonymity of companies receiving unprecedented levels of taxpayer funds.
Government watchdogs warned members of Congress last week that previously unknown Trump administration legal decisions could substantially block their ability to oversee more than $1 trillion in spending related to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter to four congressional committee chairs Thursday, two officials in charge of a new government watchdog entity revealed that the Trump administration had issued legal rulings curtailing independent oversight of Cares Act funding.
The letter surfaced amid growing bipartisan frustration over the administration’s decision not to disclose how it is spending hundreds of billions in aid for businesses. On Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appeared to bow to that pressure, saying he would work with Congress on new oversight measures. But some Democrats have said the White House is not taking disclosure requests seriously enough.
“They seem to be saying one thing while doing exactly the opposite,” said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee. “If the Trump administration is committed to full cooperation and transparency with taxpayer dollars, it is unclear why it is manufacturing legal loopholes to avoid responding to legitimate oversight requests.”
According to the previously undisclosed letter, Treasury Department attorneys concluded that the administration is not required to provide the watchdogs with information about the beneficiaries of programs created by the Cares Act’s “Division A.” That section includes some of the most controversial and expensive programs in the coronavirus response efforts, including the administration’s massive bailout for small businesses and nearly $500 billion in loans for corporations.
Mnuchin surprised many lawmakers last week when he announced he would not allow the names of Paycheck Protection Program recipients to become public after the Trump administration had said for months that the data would eventually be disclosed.
The letter from the inspectors general and Mnuchin’s insistence that the PPP data will not be released come after the White House has repeatedly rebuffed efforts to scrutinize where the taxpayer funding is going.
In their letter, the inspectors general leading the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC), an independent panel created to oversee implementation of the Cares Act, expressed concern about the administration’s legal opinions and their impact on oversight.
“If this interpretation of the CARES Act were correct, it would raise questions about PRAC’s authority to conduct oversight of Division A funds,” Michael E. Horowitz and Robert Westbrooks, the acting chair and executive director of the PRAC, said in a letter obtained by The Washington Post. “This would present potentially significant transparency and oversight issues because Division A of the CARES Act includes over $1 trillion in funding.”
Again, the inspectors general council is flat-out saying "Hey, the Trump regime refuses to let us monitor 12 digits worth of cash here, guys."
When we find out Trump and his gang stole the money, don't say you weren't warned.