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Santorum Takes on AbilityOne: “A nation is judged by how it treats the most vulnerable in society”

Sen. Rick Santorum with his daughter Bella, July 2015
Sen. Rick Santorum with his daughter Bella

Washington, August 3 – Former Sen. Rick Santorum is lashing out against AbilityOne, an organization supposed to be helping people with disabilities find jobs, for allegedly not using its taxpayer-designated money to do so.

“As the father of a special needs little girl, I am sickened by these revelations,” the Republican presidential candidate posted on his Facebook page. “A nation is judged by how it treats the most vulnerable in society.”

An investigation conducted by CNN found corruption and fraud. Every year AbilityOne and the nonprofit agency it manages, SourceAmerica, takes $2.3 billion of taxpayers’ money for its programs to employ those with disabilities.

Santorum called for the prosecution of anyone involved.

“If true, anyone associated with the suspected fraud and corruption should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We are better than this and I urge the Attorney General to take all necessary steps to get to the bottom of these repulsive charges – immediately.”

According to Kelly Buckland, executive director of the National Council For Independent Living (NCIL), AbilityOne’s contractors are supposed to have a 75 percent severely disabled workforce and ensure that jobs are going to them first. As of now, according to the investigation, they are not doing so. “Someone needs to hold them accountable,” Buckland said.

Currently, both programs are being investigated by the Department of Justice. At least four of their inspectors general offices are being investigated for illegal transactions, financial fraud, mismanagement corruption, and contract steering, according to CNN sources.

SourceAmerica has denied these allegations.

“SourceAmerica conducts its business with the utmost integrity and complies with all federal and state requirements, including those related to the administration of the AbilityOne Program,” SourceAmerica said in a statement. “The allegations being made against SourceAmerica are simply without merit. SourceAmerica is vigorously defending itself against these unfounded allegations, many of which are related to ongoing litigation brought forth by a very small number of individuals, and we anticipate a favorable resolution of these lawsuits.”

Best practices ask for people with disabilities to earn at least the minimum wage and to have competitive integrated employment. With 75 percent of people in these SourceAmerica companies, they are essentially sheltered workshops, a practice that many in the disability community are working to eliminate.

The success of successful competitive integrated employment is very important to the disability community. When an individual with disabilities is given the opportunity to earn a living wage, he no longer relies on taxpayer-funded disability benefits. This improves both his life and others, creating a win-win situation.

Santorum is best known in the disability community for his opposition to the disability treaty which is supported by hundreds of disability organizations as well as former Senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole.

Published inRepublicansRick Santorum

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