FCC Commissioner: We Were Told To Be Quiet on ‘Obamaphone’ Fraud
A chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, says his agency was ordered to be quiet about fraud in the so-called Obama-phone program.
The program involved providing free cellphones to people in need, but was rife with controversy. Investigative reports showed how people used the program to procure multiple free phones, sell them, and use the money for drugs and Louis Vuitton bags. The phone providers stood accused of defrauding the government out of millions.
Pai says he was instructed to be quiet about fraud in the program until after an FCC vote to expand the program.
“On March 31st, the FCC -- on a party line vote -- voted to dramatically expand its program to cover Internet access in addition to phone service," Pai told Fox Business. "However, about a month before that we were told about a very serious investigation involving a wireless carrier that defrauded the American taxpayers of millions upon millions of dollars. We’re also told that the investigation — we learned about this fraud back in October of 2014, that the investigation had wrapped up pretty much in the middle of 2015, but that we were not going to be on to say anything about it until April 1st at the very earliest, conveniently, one day after we voted on that party line vote to expand the program. And that was wrong.”
Pai said Americans's phone taxes have increased 60 percent over the last seven years to finance this program, "and that’s before the FCC expanded this program -- there is no telling how high that tax is going to go in the future."