Federal Election Agency, Hungry for Funds, Now Pays for Officials to Get to Office

by Jessica Huseman For years, it was how things worked at the Election Assistance Commission, the federal agency charged with helping America’s thousands of local officials run elections: If you served as one of the agency’s four commissioners, making more than $150,000 a year, you lived in and around Silver Spring, Maryland, where the agency’s office is located. The reasons were straightforward: The agency’s small staff needed daily guidance from its leadership, and its modest budget was not meant to pay for commissioners to travel from out of state. But this year, the EAC’s executive director, Brian Newby, allowed two of the four commissioners — including the agency’s chairwoman — to work outside the Washington, D.C., area and agreed to pick up the costs of their travel to and from the office. Christie McCormick and Donald Palmer, the two Republican … Continue reading

Cops in One Village Have Been Convicted of 70 Crimes. Here’s What They Had to Say About It.

by Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News STEBBINS, Alaska — No gun. No training. $14 an hour. If there were better jobs to be had, city police officers in this Bering Strait village say they’d apply for them. But working as a village police officer is one of the few options available. Especially for those with fresh criminal records or felony rap sheets. “I made a change in my life. I don’t use drugs. I don’t drink,” said Officer Delbert Acoman, 45, who has served a total of 292 days behind bars and amassed 18 criminal convictions including burglary and assault over the years. ProPublica and the Anchorage Daily News reported Thursday that at least 14 Alaska villages, including Stebbins, have hired police with criminal records, a violation of state hiring requirements. In eight other communities, tribes have hired tribal police … Continue reading

Health Insurers Make It Easy for Scammers to Steal Millions. Who Pays? You.

by Marshall Allen Ever since her 14-year marriage imploded in financial chaos and a protective order, Amy Lankford had kept a wary eye on her ex, David Williams. Williams, then 51, with the beefy body of a former wrestler gone slightly to seed, was always working the angles, looking for shortcuts to success and mostly stumbling. During their marriage, Lankford had been forced to work overtime as a physical therapist when his personal training business couldn’t pay his share of the bills. So, when Williams gave their three kids iPad Minis for Christmas in 2013, she was immediately suspicious. Where did he get that kind of money? Then one day on her son’s iPad, she noticed numbers next to the green iMessage icon indicating that new text messages were waiting. She clicked. What she saw next made her heart pound. … Continue reading

What Can Be Done Right Now to Stop a Basic Source of Health Care Fraud

by Marshall Allen In our story about the convicted health care con man David Williams, we detailed how the Texas personal trainer made off with millions by billing some of the nation’s largest health insurers as if he were a doctor providing medical services. Williams cannily exploited gaping loopholes in the health insurance system that allowed him almost unfettered entry. Taking commonsense steps to close those loopholes, experts say, could block other fraudsters from entry. 1. No one checks to see whether people getting federal ID numbers that allow them to bill insurers have valid licenses. They could. Get Our Top Investigations Subscribe to the Big Story newsletter. Don’t miss out on ProPublica’s next investigation. Sign up and get the Big Story email whenever we break news. Anyone billing an insurance company needs a National Provider Identifier, or NPI number. … Continue reading