Veteran’s group asks for federal investigation of Oregon DOJ and AG John Kroger

by Oregon War Veterans Association

Salem—On February 11, 2011, the Oregon War Veterans Association (OWVA) filed a request for a Federal investigation of the Oregon Attorney General (AG) and the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) on issues relating to their treatment of disabled veterans, and other disabled persons in Oregon.

The complaint against the Oregon DOJ comes after years of fighting with the DOJ on the issue of taking money from disabled war veterans for their court ordered child support payments.

Specifically we found that when a 100% disabled person in Oregon was (1) divorced, (2) paying child support as required by a court order, through the state of Oregon, and (3) made all the payments as required in a timely fashion, the person was nevertheless not getting the required “credit” for the payments the person was actually making.

As a result, the state of Oregon would report the payor to national credit reporting agencies (even thought the person was not in arrears), which caused the person’s credit to be severely damaged, causing an increasing in the interest rates the person would pay for basic housing, and vehicles, etc. In the letter to the US Department of Justice (USDOJ), the OWVA’s executive director wrote:

“Worse, the DOJ would report these disabled persons to the federal government as “deadbeat dads,” supposedly in an effort to pad the number of “deadbeat dads” in Oregon, in order to increase the amount of federal enforcement dollars the DOJ would be eligible to receive.  Keep in mind, the DOJ would report these numbers to the federal government, even though the state of Oregon, and the DOJ, knew the numbers were inflated.

In 2003 and during subsequent legislative sessions, the OWVA heard and presented testimony that possibly 700 veterans were affected by the DOJ’s policy to not give credit for payments made.

An anonymous employee of the DOJ’s child support division told members of the OWVA  that the DOJ was able (allegedly) to collect an estimated $1.5 million per/year, in additional federal funds for child support enforcement by keeping the disabled persons names on their “deadbeat-dad’s” list.

The OWVA believes that any federal funds garnered through such abusive actions against disabled vets and others is not only immoral, but may constitute a massive fraud as well.

“If our estimates are correct, the DOJ has possibly received more than twenty million dollars in fraudulent funds, since 1995,” Warnock wrote in his letter to the USDOJ.

While the AG (under threat of a class action lawsuit by the OWVA) made appropriate changes to his administrative rules affecting the abuse of veterans, in 2009, There is nothing he can do to erase the damage they inflicted on the disabled persons.  And, it appears that he has done nothing to expose his agency’s possible fraudulent collection of federal funds.  The Special Litigation Division of the US DOJ should determine if the AG is covering up an alleged fraud, and may help disabled persons find some sort of relief for their suffering of such horrible abuses by a government agency that was supposed to protect them.

“As if this isn’t bad enough, most of the affected veterans were combat vets disabled during the Vietnam War.  Sadly, it seems their unique suffering continues on in the 21st century,” Warnock advised the OWVA Board of Directors before they agreed to request the investigation.

In the attached letter, Warnock gives additional details about the OWVA’s longtime fight with the DOJ and AG on these issues, and calls for a federal investigation for potential fraud and civil rights abuses of disabled veterans and other disabled persons who paid their child support through the DOJ system from 1995-2009. Please see the attached letter for more details of this federal complaint against AG Kroger and the DOJ.  A copy of the letter is also being sent to Oregon’s Congressional delegation and Senators to make sure an investigation is thoroughly completed.

The OWVA has been an advocate for veteran issues in Oregon since 2003.  They have been highly successful in opposing abuses of vets and solving systemic problems facing veterans and military members in Oregon, through legislative and political influence.  They have also spearheaded many state-wide charitable events, like recently raising funds to bring stranded troops home for Christmas, and  sending disabled veterans to the Paralympics in Vancouver, BC, in 2010.