You Want to Talk About Fraud?

I agree; government programs rife with fraud and abuse should be held accountable. Nearly $26 million in documented fraud locally and a 23% fraud rate in one government funded program alone is unacceptable. But that’s not what is making the news. What is? A single incident of fraud allegedly committed by former government employees scamming the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program in Arizona – which has a fraud rate of just 0.001%.

Arizona’s Attorney General Kris Mayes held a press conference last Friday using the indictment of five people, three of them former Arizona Department of Education employees, to accuse the ESA program of being ripe for fraud and abuse. But let’s take a look at the facts:

  • The crime was an inside job that would not have been possible by someone outside the government office, according to a report here from Jason Bedrick of Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy.
  • Bedrick reports the ESA program’s 0.001% fraud rate pales greatly in comparison to other government programs:
    • A fraction of public schools has racked up nearly $26 million in documented fraud over the last two decades (referenced above).
    • Employees at three different Arizona school districts have been indicted for theft, fraud, forgery, etc. and a fourth pled to a guilty plea.
    • Scammers cost state taxpayers more than $1 billion by fraudulently billing Arizona’s Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCS).
    • Federal government agencies have a fraud rate of 7.2% overall and the National School Breakfast program has a 23% fraud rate (referenced above).
    • The Arizona Auditor General found in its most recent review of the ESA program, a single $30 transaction at an unapproved merchant.

Incidentally, it was not the AG’s office that found the alleged fraud by former ADE employees, it was the ADE itself, an indication the oversight and regulation is working quite well. Also noteworthy: the employees in question worked and allegedly committed their crimes under the previous administration headed by Kathy Hoffman.

Phil Boas at The Arizona Republic wrote an opinion column pointing out this fact and other false accusations that stem more from an opposition to the ESA program than from any real problem within it.

No amount of fraud is acceptable, but singling out one incident without presenting the whole picture is disingenuous and unfair to the 70,000 families using the ESA program rightly and legally.

Capitol Update

CAP – supported bill SB 1628 passed out of the House Judiciary Committee this week with a vote along party lines of 6-3. SB 1628 defines sex as male or female and helps protect girls’ and women’s sports and private spaces. The bill still needs to pass a House floor vote before heading to the Governor’s desk. 

You can follow all CAP-supported bill on our bill tracker.


  • Read here how France tragically embraced abortion and how other nations are poised to follow.
  • Read or listen here to one father’s heartbreaking court fight to save his son from “transition.”
  • Read here how a Virginia student is suing county officials for forcing “transgender” restrooms and opposite pronoun use.
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