“Many members of the state Legislature have detected fraud in state election results where, as abundant evidence shows, it is vanishingly rare. They should focus their fraud radar, instead, on the distribution of billions of dollars in state money.
The fundamental reason that voter fraud is rare is that there is little to gain from the crime, whereas the enormous risk is a felony prosecution. It’s far more likely for people to accept the risk of committing financial fraud because of the tangible payoff: If they get away with it, they get the money.
Lawmakers have introduced multiple bills and even proposed state constitutional amendments to combat phantom election fraud. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania does not have a civil false claims law to battle financial fraud involving public money.
Tuesday, Democratic state Sen. Lindsey M. Williams of Allegheny County and Republican Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill of York said that they will introduce a bill to create such a law, the Commonwealth Fraud Prevention Act for Taxpayer Accountability.
Like the federal False Claims Act, the proposed state law would protect whistleblowers who report fraud from retaliation in the workplace. The sponsors cited a 2022 report by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, which found that 42% of verified financial fraud is discovered due to tips from individuals, and that 50% of those whistleblowers are employees of the relevant agency.
Pennsylvania would become the 33rd state to have a false claims act, if the Legislature adopts the law. In many other states, it has worked well. Maryland, for example, has recovered more than $81 million since it passed its false claims law in 2015, and New Jersey has reclaimed more than $147 million since adopting its law in 2008.
The bill is modeled on the federal False Claims Act, which is important beyond the proven efficacy of the federal law. States with their own federally compliant false claims laws receive 58% of the money recovered from fraud committed against the state-federal Medicaid program, whereas states receive only 48% if the money is recovered under the federal law alone.
The Legislature should pass the bill to build the arsenal against misuse of millions of public dollars.”
You can read the Commonwealth Fraud Prevention Act co-sponsorship memo at https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20230&cosponId=39601.