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Iowa officials block release of welfare transactions

By   /   February 1, 2013  /   1 Comment

By Sheena Dooley | Iowa Watchdog

DES MOINES – Officials with the Iowa Department of Human Services have refused to make welfare transactions public, saying federal banking laws prohibit them from doing so.


Officials with the Iowa Department of Human Services deny request to release welfare transactions.

Iowa Watchdog requested in January a month’s worth of transactions from debit cards issued to the state’s welfare recipients under the Family Investment Program, which is funded with federal and state dollars.

Other states, including Pennsylvania, New Mexico and New York, have released similar information. The records showed ATM withdrawals and purchases at liquor stores, strip clubs and bars.

Iowa, however, is different from other states because it contracts with Xerox to provide a majority of welfare recipients with the debit cards. A number of other states run their own program. Iowa also doesn’t lump the program in with others aimed at helping the poor, said Roger Munns, spokesman for the Iowa Department of Human Services. That affects what’s public. For example, states are required to track food stamp purchases under federal law but do not have to monitor welfare expenditures.

“The Department of Human Services is prohibited from using the Family Investment Program electronic access card to track the places where individuals redeem their benefits,” Munns said in a written response to Iowa Watchdog’s request. “The job of the department is to accurately determine eligibility and to provide benefits … The state has no ability to monitor the cardholder’s use of the funds, or the size or number of transactions generated against the card account.”

Munns declined to further discuss the matter, saying he would not change his mind on the matter and to put further correspondence in writing.

Contact Sheena Dooley at [email protected]


Sheena formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • ginger

    HELP!!!! on Medicade, ready to have my baby and Medicade has a block on me to go to Burlington, Iowa to the dr., I live up by Iowa City,Iowa, 100 miles away. How can I talk to someone that can help me? DHS just says can’t help you. I have a shoulder that has had surgery, but it keeps going clear out of the socket, so, whereever it happens I have to go to an ER to put it back in, because of this, using different hospitals the block is because they think I do this for drugs? how do Iget off of this? anyone with a brain knows if your shoulder goes clear out of the socket the pain is incredible until itsput back in.. I am having a baby with serious kidney problems and I need to get this block taken off, please, please help!