Court proceedings were paused in a hearing about the slow processing of food stamps applications last week when it seemed like a former state employee could incriminate herself. A supervisor was set to answer questions about falsified applications when the judge asked if she wanted an attorney of her own.
If Human Services Department bosses ordered workers to change food stamps applications, attorney Sovereign Hager said that shows the agency that oversees the program is deliberately refusing to fix what needs fixing. "Rather than addressing problems with untimely processing for example, the state is taking steps to doctor the evidence," she said.
Hager, who’s on the team challenging the state, said New Mexico needs a third-party expert to make the system work. "Families will continue to be unable to access food and medical assistance that they are entitled to under the law unless the Human Services Department makes systemic, permanent changes to how they do things."
The hearing will resume on May 13 in Las Cruces, and a separate as-yet-unscheduled hearing will allow the department to respond.
HSD Secretary Brent Earnest said in a written statement that the allegations are very troubling, and they’ve launched an internal investigation.