Obama(S)care: Con artists and criminals in charge

Question: If Obamacare officials cannot prevent accused embezzlers from infiltrating their offices, how can they protect enrollees from grifters, con artists and thieves in the federal health insurance exchange system?

Here in my home state, a director of Connect for Health Colorado — the state-sponsored health insurance exchange — was just put on administrative leave. No, Christa Ann McClure did not go on leave over the chronic problems plaguing the cursed Connect for Health website. She’s on leave because she has been indicted for filching funds from her last employer in Montana.

No, the guardians of Obamacare didn’t smoke her out on their own. McClure ‘fessed up only after the local Billings (Mont.) Gazette newspaper reported on the charges against her. She was indicted by a grand jury on Jan. 16. But her current state government employers did not find out until last week, when McClure finally informed them because the press had published the indictment.

The Keystone Kops of the Colorado health exchange tell us they conducted “thorough” background checks of McClure. They say they “fully vetted” and investigated her references when they hired her last March for her six-figure job helming the state Obamacare office of “partner engagement.” Colorado officials say she was “well-qualified” for the Obamacare job, which involves being a “liaison” with other government agencies.

But mum’s the word on who recommended her, which references they talked to and who in Colorado Democratic circles might have known about her history in Montana.

The 12-page federal indictment is a blood-boiling document outlining government waste, fraud and abuse in the federal affordable housing racket. The feds say McClure siphoned untold amounts of money from the nonprofit group Housing Montana, which received a half-million-dollar federal grant to build homes for poor people.

McClure allegedly was paying herself “significant sums” for bogus “consulting services” while also taking a full-time salary as executive director of the nonprofit. She is accused of raiding the organization’s funds for family expenses, personal travel and a laptop and lying to the IRS to obtain false reimbursements. She further defrauded the government by inflating her unused sick and annual leave hours. The feds say she also bilked Montana homeowners who participated in the federal affordable housing program by charging them for a fake $750 warranty and a $1,000 fee for “leasing tools.”

Here’s another disturbing fact: In a classic dance of the lemons, McClure had bounced around successfully from government-funded job to job until now. The Montana state auditor’s office disclosed last week that McClure had managed three grants worth more than $2 million to implement Obamacare in that state. McClure worked on the project for three years at an annual salary of $98,000. She was “responsible for managing a broad range of contracts and making sure they got delivered on time,” according to The Billings Gazette.

To whom did she deliver them, you ask? State auditors will be trying to find out now. McClure faces trial in June and up to 20 years on each of the eight charges of fraud and embezzlement.

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