SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – The first results of an internal investigation into whether New Mexico state officials falsified emergency food benefit applications to meet federal processing deadlines is raising new concerns that aid may not be reaching those in need.
State Democratic Party Chairwoman Debra Haaland said Monday that she and several allied lawmakers want to ensure that emergency food benefits reach eligible residents while the Human Services Department continues its investigation.
The agency’s inspector general was told by some food-assistance case workers that applications for expedited aid were altered as an unwritten rule to avoid running afoul of federal guidelines for timeliness.
Advocates for aid recipients say the practice can delay crucial public assistance and want a federal receiver appointed to oversee the program. A federal judge is considering whether that is warranted.