Democrats Want An Investigation Because An Audit Found That The Governor Broke The Law When The Pandemic Aid Program Began

Democrats Want An Investigation Because An Audit Found That The Governor Broke The Law When The Pandemic Aid Program Began

IN ATLANTA — Democrats in Georgia want a criminal investigation into a state deal worth a billion dollars that was signed almost two years ago but is now being looked into.

In March, 11Alive was the first to report that a state audit said the Department of Human Services broke the law when it quickly started a cash support program.

People who got virtual cash cards with Gov. Brian Kemp’s name on them complained right away that they couldn’t get the government pandemic relief money that the state was trying to give them. Kemp announced the plan in August 2022, after schools had opened again and the pandemic was over.

A report from the state Department of Audits says Kemp’s administration asked four carefully chosen vendors to run the program for contracts, even though the report says state law requires the state to post a request for bids on its website. The state gave the billion-dollar job to a company called Rellevate within a week. Last year, the company posted a “thank you” picture.

The state report said that when the state Department of Human Services gave the contract, it didn’t follow a law that said bids had to be asked for. The audit found that it was a “particularly large purchase that did not comply” with state laws, which would have made “quicker delivery of funds to beneficiaries…”

This is what state Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) said after the audit: she wants Attorney General Chris Carr to start a criminal investigation into how the contract was given.

“What this audit clearly found was a violation of Georgia law,” he said.

The state gave out the cards with Kemp’s name on them just a few weeks before early voting began for Kemp’s re-election in 2022. Parent said this makes a lot of sense and brings up an important question.

“Whether this was simply rushed so that cash could land in Georgians’ hands with Gov. Kemp’s name on it as they went to the polls,” she added.

Kemp and Carr were re-elected a few weeks later. They are political partners. 11Alive called Carr’s office to get a comment and is now waiting for a reply.

The state audit found that the contract did not follow state law. The Department of Human Services, which gave the contract, did not challenge this. The audit thought that the quick signing of the contract might have been due to a need to get government money to people who need it quickly.

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