© 2023 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Missouri Audit Alleges Misuse of EBT Cards By Some Welfare Recipients

A new audit released Tuesday finds that some welfare recipients in Missouri have used their benefits to buy things besides food and other daily necessities, while others may have moved away but continue to get in-state benefits.

The audit centers on the use ofEBT(electronic benefit transfer) cards from Temporary Assistance to Needy Families,a federal program administered on the state level in all 50 states. said during fiscal year 2012, around $261,000 in benefits were spent at businesses associated with gambling, alcohol, tobacco and adult entertainment.

"That seems inconsistent with the purpose of the program, to provide benefits to kids," Schweich said.

Missouri passed a state law earlier this year banning EBT cards from being used at such places.

The audit also found people in other states accessedaround $461,000 in Missouri benefits for periods of time longer than 90 days, which may indicate that they've moved away.

"Therewere some rather egregious ones," Schweich, a Republican, said.  "We had somebody who spent 153 days in the Virgin Islands and was still getting (Missouri) benefits, (and) we had somebody who had spent 338 days during one year in California and was still getting (Missouri) benefits....Those are questionable transactions that need to be investigated further."

It's not illegal for Missouri residents to use their EBT cards while visiting other states, but Schweich says those that have moved away need to register in their new home state.  The audit examined $96 million in benefits paid out through the use of EBT cards from July 1st, 2011, through June 30th, 2012.

While Schweich said that the amounts involved -- $461,000 and $261,000 -- make up less than 1 percent of the total value of the (TANF) program," he said that "because it's such a big program, it's still a lot of money."

The entire audit can be viewed here.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Copyright 2020 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit .

Marshall Griffin is the Statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.
Marshall Griffin
St. Louis Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a native of Mississippi and proud alumnus of Ole Miss (welcome to the SEC, Mizzou!). He has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off an old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Liberty Belle, and their cat, Honey.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and powerful storytelling.
Your donation helps make nonprofit journalism available for everyone.