Arizona’s conservative governor, Jan Brewer, has her own personal sorrows that turned into a Social Security investigation that went nowhere but raises weird questions, which were pointed out today by The Arizona Republic.
Time travel back to 1989: Brewer’s mentally ill son, Ronald, is arrested for kidnapping a woman and forcing her to perform oral sex. He is found to be criminally insane, and hospitalized in a taxpayer funded state hospital, where he reportedly remains today. At the time, a court official ordered Brewer to turn her son’s Social Security disability payments over to the state hospital, the Arizona Republic reports. And, the paper reports, Brewer was re-ordered to make the payments the following year.
The federal investigation, which Brewer says was politically motivated, centered on what, exactly, happened to those SS payments. In the end, the case was closed.
But Republic reporters Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Michael Kiefer rightfully point out that unanswered questions still swirl around the case:
“The Arizona Department of Health Services, which runs the hospital, declined to release records to The Republicregarding such payments, saying the records either were protected by privacy laws or did not exist.
Court records said Ronald was receiving Social Security benefits when he was sent to the hospital in 1990. Federal law was changed in 1995, barring Social Security benefits to anyone institutionalized after being found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Each year, Jan Brewer, as “representative payee,” would have been asked by the Social Security Administration to sign a form regarding her son’s status. That form requires the representative payee to confirm if there is any change in the living arrangements of the beneficiary. The signature line for that reporting form states: “A person who conceals or fails to tell SSA about events asked about on this form with the intent to fraudulently receive benefits may be fined, imprisoned, or both.” Ronald did have a status change in 2002. Court records show he was conditionally released in May 2002 and returned to the hospital by September 2002. He currently is confined to the hospital.
The basis of the investigation was whether Ronald improperly received benefits at any time; the amount of money in question is about $75,000. Brewer said her son is no longer receiving benefits.
The governor declined repeated requests for interviews or records regarding the investigation. Last Friday, the newspaper submitted written questions to the governor’s chief of staff and Brewer’s private attorney. Those questions were answered in part this week by a four-page statement from Brewer.
Much of that statement focused on her family’s efforts to manage the affairs of her son, whose institutionalization has required them to be involved in his financial affairs.”
This is a weird, sad story. I’m sure we’ll learn more.
The story is also counter intuitive – the same governor who complains about Big Government relies on its decency and largesse to care for her seriously ill son.