Conservative activist group uncovers "Obamaphone" fraud

Thinking back to the 2012 presidential election, you may remember a short-lived controversy surrounding the so-called "Obamaphone" program, known officially as Lifeline. This government initiative, which was begun in the mid-1980s, extends phone services to low-income Americans in order to help them find employment and communicate with their families during an emergency.

On its surface, this program seems admirable, as it gives impoverished folks the chance to have a working phone with which to advance themselves professionally. Yet a YouTube video in the run-up to the election exposed certain individuals who had received multiple free phones from the U.S. government, despite legal restrictions. While the phrase "Obamaphone" was born in that moment, the controversy quickly sputtered as public attention went elsewhere.

A new batch of videos, however, created by the conservative activist group Project Veritas, has pushed the fraud and waste of Lifeline back into the open. According to The Daily Mail, a U.K.-based news source, Veritas operatives masquerading as everyday citizens approached "Obamaphone" kiosks in the southern United States. While being assisted, the undercover individuals inquired about selling the phones or even acquiring more than one. In every instance, the customer service representative said it was all right to do so.

'Once you guys give me this phone, it's my phone?' one of the Veritas members asked at a Lifeline outreach center. 'I can, like, sell it and stuff?'

"Whatever you want to do with it," he was told in response.

Considering that several telecommunications companies have reaped billions of dollars since Lifeline was restructured to include mobile phone access, it stands to reason that the Obama administration has engaged in a wasteful and unaccountable program. It's yet another example of poor governance, especially during a time when much-needed economic reforms are going unheeded.

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