Rob Undersander is a retired engineer who has a seven-figure retirement fund and other notable assets. Since he is retired, however, he has no actual “income.” Several years ago, he noticed that income was the only criterion for receiving food stamps in his home state of Minnesota, also known as “Moneysota” to the many that come there seeking government benefits. Disturbed that the eligibility guidelines might be too lax and easily exploited, he decided to apply for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, or food stamps, to determine if asset millionaires such as himself could obtain them. They can-- and he did.
Undersander recently told the Washington Free Beacon: "I've got the [SNAP] form in my hand and I'm thinking of my financial situation, and I said, ‘you know, I just can't believe this.' So, I went down to the second floor of the Sterns County Courthouse, stood in line a little bit, handed in the application and three weeks later I'm getting food stamps, a balance on my EBT card."
Undersander stated, "I was honestly hoping it [the application] would be denied." Since it wasn’t, and his hypothesis proved correct, he says he carefully tracked all the monies he received from the program and donated it to local charities to benefit the needy.
This was not enough to mollify Democrats in a House agricultural subcommittee, however, who savaged Undersander for his actions. (Although not invited to testify, Undersander was in attendance at the June 20th subcommittee meeting ostensibly held to look at “broad-based categorical eligibility” for benefits like SNAP. In reality, the hearings were held because Democrats are nervous about possible rule changes that the Trump administration may soon mandate…changes that would tighten the program’s eligibility and distribution requirements).
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.): "And let me just also say for the record, I think if someone intentionally defrauds the federal government, they ought to go to jail.”
Undersander says everything he did was completely legal, since he didn’t falsify any part of his application. He stated: "When I filled out that form, I used an abundance of honesty and caution.”
As Rep. Mike Conway (R-Tex.) correctly noted: "Mr. Undersander did not break the law, he simply abided by the rules that were in place, so he didn't defraud anybody.”
To which Rep. McGovern replied, "He intentionally defrauded the federal government. That is, in my opinion, breaking the law." No, the federal government is a fraud, at least as far as The Swamp is concerned. It intentionally sets programs up in order to defraud productive, law-abiding citizens in fly-over country. And it is the Republicans who have continually argued that the oh-so-loose eligibility requirements attendant to programs like this allow resources to be diverted away from the truly needy.
Subcommittee Chairwoman Marcia Fudge (!), a Democrat from Ohio, also scolded Undersander, telling him: “You willfully and maliciously gamed the SNAP. You, an alleged millionaire, used mischaracterizations of your finances to cheat the program. You took benefits meant for the very seniors in Minnesota you served through your volunteer work. And you did this all to continue the right-wing crusade against poor people." A “crusade?” A war on poor people? Virtually the opposite is true.
The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) estimates that 33 other states are like Minnesota in that they only test income and not assets when it comes to SNAP and similar programs. Governments are keen to get as many people addicted to their largess as possible. Benefits act as a narcotic to most folks. It is no longer religion that is the “opium of the masses,” but government handouts.
Undersander wasn’t attempting to defraud the system, he was trying to show how easy it is to do so.