Maine Mayor Seeks Public List of Welfare Recipients
Sep 28 2015
In announcing his intention to introduce legislation that would make publicly available the name, address, the length of time they've been receiving benefits and what those benefits are, MacDonald declared, "the public has a right to know how its money is being spent".
Macdonald argues that, because welfare recipients receive assistance from taxpayer money, the taxpayers deserve to know who they are.
Macdonald wrote that he will be submitting a bill in hopes of creating the website but also plans to make two additional changes to the states' s social assistance program.
He said Maine has a website listing pension amounts issued to state workers, and questioned why other recipients of state revenue are protected. "Just shut up and pay!"
This isn't the first time Macdonald, a Republican, has generated controversy with his ideas.
In Kansas, lawmakers passed stringent laws dictating how people who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families can spend their benefits. A total of 80 people were kicked off public assistance, including some who were charged with fraud. Macdonald later attempted to clarify his remarks, saying that they were taken out of context and that he never said anything disparaging about the Somali community.
"I'm not sure that it would stand up", he said. Lewiston at the time was experiencing an influx of immigrants from Somalia who were resettling in the city from Portland and other locations. Macdonald couldn't be reached for further comment, but made his case in the paper. "Because it's confidentiality and people's rights and all that", he said.
"There are specific provisions in federal law that would prohibit the posting of that information", state Rep. Drew Gattine told the Bangor Daily News. "And I think the reason it grabs their attention is it's so shocking that we would see something that would so fundamentally undermine a person's right to privacy in the way this proposal does".
Macdonald admits that he would need a state representative or senator to introduce such a bill, and says he has discussed it with a couple of lawmakers. "We're just getting overwhelmed here" from people who come to Maine from out of state.