Between the political practices indictment and filing for the wrong district so he could switch and run unopposed, I’m starting to think Art Wittich is devious. Last week, the Republican from Belgrade chaired a meeting of the House Human Services Committee that heard testimony form three state aid workers. In this context, “testimony” means stories about welfare moms driving Hummers. After the committee had heard a series of what seemed to be office anecdotes, Ellie Hill (D-Missoula) asked if the witnesses reported any of these obvious abuses to fraud control. They had not. Could they connected these stories to any names or case numbers? They could not.
Here Wittich took proceedings in hand again, asking the witnesses not to offer names or numbers “in case there’s a prosecution.” Thus were facts formally banished from the meeting and rumors designated their proxy. This week in the Independent, I suggest that Wittich might lead us away from our base ignorance rather than toward it. There is plenty of actual data about welfare available, much of it indicating that underpayments are more common than overpayments. Maybe that’s because a woman whose job is to hand out benefits thinks what her coworker said about somebody’s husband is admissible evidence. Maybe it’s because the man appointed to chair the House Human Services Committee opposes all services and most humans. Maybe most poor people are, in fact, poor.