Saturday, June 19, 2021

Tiffany newsletter converts fraud estimates into facts

Having noted in previous blog posts some misleading, demagoguing and denigrating information which far-right WI GOP Cong. Tom Tiffany has included in his weekly 'Telegram' newsletter, I'm duty-bound to pass along that in this week's edition he

Image of Tom Tiffany

'may' have done it again.

I get my edition by email. It will eventually be posted on his office website, and it circulates in newspapers in his district as op-eds.

Begin with these alarmist paragraphs:

We shared some troubling data with you recently about the sheer size and scope of fraud in government pandemic spending. Readers may recall some of the most ridiculous examples – con-artists buying Bentleys, Lamborghinis, Maseratis and swimming pools with your money, prison inmates cashing in from behind bars and even one brazen scammer who was so proud of defrauding American taxpayers that he made a rap video about it...
bombshell report this week revealed that fully half of those generous unemployment benefits that the government has been pumping out – the ones encouraging many people to stay on public assistance rather than returning to work – have actually been stolen.

Now's let's stop right there, because the report did not say the funds "have actually been stolen." Read on. 

And that’s not all: It seems that more than two-thirds of the loot wound up in the pockets of street gangs and state-supported thieves as far away as China, Russia and Nigeria.... 

OK - two points: 

1. Stealing public funds is bad, criminal and wrong, but...

2. The "bombshell report" which was posted by the Axios news site that Tiffany is citing does not say "fully half of those generous unemployment benefits...have actually been stolen."

The report is titled:

Half of the pandemic's unemployment money may have been stolen

Swapping "may have been stolen" for "have actually been stolen" misstates the story, but would amp up its impact on unaware readers.

Note also that the story further restrains its reporting when its sources use qualifying wording like "estimates," or "might have been stolen."

By the numbers: Blake Hall, CEO of, a service that tries to prevent this kind of fraud, tells Axios that America has lost more than $400 billion to fraudulent claims. As much as 50% of all unemployment monies might have been stolen, he says.

Haywood Talcove, the CEO of LexisNexis Risk Solutions, estimates that at least 70% of the money stolen by impostors ultimately left the country, much of it ending up in the hands of criminal syndicates in China, Nigeria, Russia and elsewhere.

Again, those numbers are really big estimates - but Tiffany did not wait for official sources to verify them.

Yet this is no small matter: the difference is equivalent to what separates ‘you may have won the lottery’ from ‘you have actually won the lottery,’ or between ‘you may have exceeded the speed limit’ and ‘you have actually exceeded the speed limit - by 50%.’ 

But that’s what will happen when communications are allowed to morph into partisan vapidity.

Was his goal to boost the ideological, partisan narratives he regularly 'telegraphs' to his conservative electoral base?

Or was this just a mistake - or perhaps another  'drafting error'?

Note also that his current newsletter applies tougher word-smithing when explaining his vote against making Juneteenth a Federal holiday:

Does America need a second “National Independence Day”?  

That’s a question some of us asked when Democrats brought a bill to the House floor this week creating a new federal holiday called “Juneteenth National Independence Day” – legislation they passed with little debate, and no opportunity for lawmakers to offer amendments or alternatives. 

Many lawmakers went along with the bill, but I voted against it because I believe there is only one Independence Day in America – just as there is only one National Anthem, one American flag and one America – under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. 

To be clear, Juneteenth is one of many important milestones in America’s shared journey that began in 1776 to create a more perfect union – a commemoration of slaves in the American southwest learning that they had been emancipated. 

Unfortunately, by labeling this new holiday as a second, race-based “National Independence Day” instead of a “National Emancipation Day,” the bill represents yet another effort by Democrats to turn Americans against one another, and foment division based on skin color instead of uniting us.

Tiffany used the same kind of soaring rhetoric to explain why he opposed anti-Asian hate crime legislation.

“All violent and bias-motivated crimes are abhorrent, should be condemned, and the perpetrators prosecuted -- but politicizing the issue in an effort to pit Americans against one another based on race to score partisan political points is just plain wrong. We are all Americans, and we should denounce all crimes – regardless of the skin color of the offender or the victim.”

Again, two things:

1. Denouncing crimes is not the same as pro-actively implementing a solution to prevent them.

2. I cannot imagine that minority Americans living in his district believe they get fair representation from the Congressman to whom they contribute a share of his taxpayer-supplied salary and benefits.


Anonymous said...

Republicans are always piling up another Bullshit Mountain they can summit!

Anonymous said...

"I cannot imagine that minority Americans living in his district believe they get fair representation from the Congressman to whom they contribute a share of his taxpayer-supplied salary and benefits."

Would venture the opinion that a majority of the Americans living in the 7th CD would agree they are NOT receiving fair representation from this dog whistle-blowing Koch head. Period. And that the "majority" who elected him are actually a minority when calculated against all potential eligible voters - many of which simply did not bother to show up at the polls.

Anonymous said...

Noticed June 21 Milw Journal Sentinel article about the Proud Boys repeatedly references their communications channel is the encrypted messaging service Telegram. (may be behind paywall)

Can't help wondering if The Tiffany Telegram newsletter name is calculated to "telegraph" more than just an alliterative tip of the hat to old school communications technology.