Tens of thousands of federal government employees, including IRS workers, stole taxpayer money allocated for pandemic-era assistance programs, according to the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee.
The committee’s Pandemic Analytics Center of Excellence (PACE) flagged the employees after building a database to compare Small Business Administration loan applications with lists of federal employees.
“So far, this analysis has helped six agency OIGs match tens of thousands of employees with SBA loans for which they were not eligible,” PACE’s overseers at the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee revealed last month, according to The Washington Times.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) called for the employees who took advantage of taxpayer programs to be fired.
“I hope this money can be recovered, and, to deter those who might ever think of trying to do this again in the future, those who abused the public trust will have their federal employment terminated,” Ernst said in an email to committee head Michael E. Horowitz.
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The federal employees stole from the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, which were both established to help small businesses struggling under the government’s debilitating response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ernst also urged investigators to review pandemic-era unemployment benefits, highlighting a Department of Homeland Security inspector general report that uncovered hundreds of fraudulent unemployment claims among government employees.
“It is appalling for anyone fortunate enough to have the reliability of a government paycheck to take advantage of financial assistance intended to provide a lifeline to Americans who lost their jobs or were unable to work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the senator wrote. “These misbehaved bureaucrats have also tarnished the reputation of the other dedicated civil servants, many of whom worked long hours in essential jobs during the pandemic.”