NM senator calls for HSD secretary’s resignation after workers plead the Fifth in federal food stamp hearing

NM senator calls for HSD secretary’s resignation after workers plead the Fifth in federal food stamp hearing

By Blair Miller

Managers from the New Mexico Human Services Department invoked their Fifth Amendment rights 97 times during a hearing Tuesday in federal court regarding allegations that HSD workers changed applications that would postpone SNAP benefits for people in need.

HSD is accused of taking emergency applications for food assistance that weren’t being processed in time, then adding fake assets to the applicants’ information, making them ineligible for emergency aid.

A whistleblower spoke to KOB about the alleged misconduct earlier this month.

Wednesday, Sen. Jerry Ortiz Y Pino, D-Albuquerque, called for HSD Secretary Brent Earnest to resign, saying that his officials refused to ever say in court last Friday if they were directed to falsify the paperwork.

Ortiz Y Pino says he also hopes state lawmakers can get some answers out of those officials and take action to prevent future issues.

“Then maybe put some language into their appropriation next year that makes clear that this can’t be tolerated,” he told KOB in an interview Wednesday.

See more here: http://www.kob.com/health-news/nm-senator-jerry-ortiz-y-pino-calls-for-hsd-secretarys-resignation-after-workers-plead-the-fifth-in-federal-food-stamp-hearing/4142647/#.Vz3gSJErKUk