On his Politics Nation program last night, Rev. Al Sharpton reacted with incredulity to a remark that former Speaker Newt Gingrich made on the campaign trail about there being millionaires collecting food stamps.
"I challenge Newt Gingrich to name one millionaire that he knows that's getting food stamps," Sharpton blustered, apparently unaware of news that broke in May of this year about lottery winner Leroy Fick. The Michigan man won $2 million in a state lottery game yet continued to collect food stamps because, as Ron French of the Detroit News reported: (emphasis mine)
Eligibility for food stamps is based on gross income and follows federal guidelines; lottery winnings are considered liquid assets and don't count as income. As long as Fick's gross income stays below the eligibility requirement for food stamps, he can receive them, even if he has a million dollars in the bank.
"For Leroy Fick to continue to use a Bridge Card, paid for by the taxpayers, after winning the lottery, is obscene," said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge. "What a waste of taxpayer money."
Jones contacted DHS officials Monday about Fick's case, and was told the department's hands were tied by federal regulations.
"There is no liquid asset requirement for getting food stamps," Jones said. "The department is asking the federal government for an immediate change (in policy). They're hoping this case will help the federal government act."
Until then, Fick can collect food stamps and keep his lottery winnings in the bank.
"I am not going to sit and debate the ethics of this," Wilson said. "But from his standpoint, he did what he was supposed to do -- he informed the state, and the state said he could keep using the card. The problem is with the state."
True, one could argue the semantic point that, technically, Fick is NOT a millionaire because he doesn't have a steady stream of annual income amounting to at least one million dollars. But the point of Gingrich's comment is that there is fraud and abuse of food stamps whereby there are folks receiving the benefits who, like Fick, clearly do not need them.