Brunner: Lotto Winner Must Lose Bridge Card, System Must be Fixed!

Rep. demands that state close loophole to protect taxpayer dollars
Wednesday, May 18, 2011

BAY CITY - Sharing in residents’ outrage that the state has allowed an Auburn man who won $2 million in the state lottery to continue to receive food assistance, State Representative Charles Brunner (D-Bay City) demanded today that the state Department of Human Services change its policy immediately and protect taxpayer dollars from this abuse.

“There can be no excuses for state officials simply shrugging their shoulders and rubber-stamping forms when they see abuse of taxpayer money intended to help those who are truly in need,” Brunner said. I’m going to do everything I can to end this sickening practice immediately.”

Several media outlets reported Tuesday on the case of Leroy Fick, an Auburn man who has been using a Michigan Bridge Card, an electronic version of food stamps, with the state’s blessing since winning $2 million from the Michigan Lottery nearly a year ago. Fick even bragged about it in the media.

State DHS officials confirmed that Fick was directed to continue using the Bridge Card and that his eligibility was even recently reviewed and reconfirmed. The state officials blamed the loophole on the fact that the $850,000 lump sum payment Fick received is not counted in federal guidelines that determine eligibility for food stamps.

As soon as Brunner learned about this abuse of taxpayer dollars, he talked with officials at both the local and state Department of Human Services to demand that this loophole be closed. At the Capitol, he requested that state legislation be drafted immediately to solve this problem.

“Like everyone in Bay County, I am disgusted and appalled that the state would let a rich man spend tax dollars earned by hard-working people,” Brunner said. “Residents have every right to be angry and outraged. The system is broken and it has to be fixed right now.”