Editorial: Congress should investigate tribal TANF now
"Congress and the California Legislature must immediately investigate the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program for Native American tribes that has served the Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians since 2002.

Actually, red flags from troublesome audits should have triggered an investigation in the early 2000s. Those audits revealed serious accounting flaws that failed to account for $6 million of federal money meant to help the poorest residents of the Coachella Valley and Riverside and Los Angeles counties.

The program's significant shortcomings were revealed in Sunday's Desert Sun in a special investigative report by Keith Matheny. Congress and the General Assembly should be alarmed by his findings, and taxpayers should be outraged.

We want to emphatically state that the program should not be abandoned. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, high school dropout and unemployment rates are 60 percent on the Torres-Martinez reservation. The program is vital and necessary for those who need a temporary helping hand financially.

However, Sunday's special report makes clear the program is riddled with problems. We are astounded by the lack of oversight from Washington, D.C., and Sacramento and the muted response from government officials who were informed of Matheny's findings."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Lawmakers must investigate tribal welfare program swiftly (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 1/20)

Special Report:
Aid to Indian Country: A Desert Sun investigation (The Palm Springs Desert Sun January 2010)