Southern California -- this just in

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Thousands in welfare cash tapped at California strip clubs

California welfare recipients have been able to get taxpayer cash -- meant to feed and clothe needy families -- from ATM machines at strip clubs across the state, including some well-known gentlemen’s cabarets in Los Angeles.

More than $12,000 from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program was dispensed from the start of 2007 to the end of 2009 at clubs including Sam’s Hofbrau, Seventh Veil and Star Strip, according to officials at the Department of Social Services.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has ordered the department to remove the clubs from the official list of businesses where welfare recipients can withdraw benefits using state-issued ATM cards.

The move came a day after The Times asked the administration how much welfare cash had been withdrawn at 17 adult clubs in recent years and less than a week after The Times reported that more than half the casinos and state-licensed poker rooms in California appeared on an official website showing welfare recipients where they can access cash benefits.

Following that report, Schwarzenegger ordered the casinos struck from the state’s ATM network and directed the Department of Social Services to produce a plan to reduce “waste, fraud and abuse” in the welfare program.

“We'll take a wide-ranging look and apply some common sense to the list of outlets where cash assistance should not be withdrawn,” Department of Social Services spokeswoman Lizelda Lopez wrote in an e-mail to The Times on Tuesday evening, announcing that her department had “taken steps to deactivate ATMs in adult entertainment clubs.”

Strip-club managers seemed shocked that welfare benefits were accessible through their ATMs.  In most cases, the machines were provided by a third party, the managers said, and they had no way of knowing their ATMs are part of the state system.

The state contracts with the Quest ATM network.

“If there’s a way that the ATM can reject their card if they’re on welfare, I’m really and truly all for that,” said Merle Matias, manager at Sam’s Hofbrau in downtown Los Angeles, where $2,159 had been withdrawn, according to Department of Social Services officials.  “I don’t think it will affect us at all.”

Star Strip manager Joey Mancini said state officials must be wrong about the $1,265 they said had been withdrawn from his club’s ATM.  The Quest symbol isn’t on the machine, he said, adding that he thought any system that allowed access to welfare benefits at a strip club should be reformed: “This is not what that money is for.”

A manager at Seventh Veil declined to comment.

-- Jack Dolan in Sacramento

Comments () | Archives (168)

To "Mike Burke" your way of looking at things is so precise and exactly why we have liberals making stupid and costly welfare decisions each day. Libs always blame the war for lack of money in schools but this state kills the taxpapyers each day wasting money a ton of gov. programs.

I don't understand why this is obscene or seems like a no-brainer, surface or otherwise. Why do people care -- besides stupidity and ignorance at how the world and human psychology really works?

The debit cards people on welfare receive are just that: debit cards. Instead of issuing checks that people have to cash, they get cash on a debit card they can get out at an ATM, just like a bank debit card. Do you honestly think people never spent any of their welfare cash on strip clubs (or casinos, or booze, or whatever else) in the days before debit cards existed? And I'm pretty sure people will continue to use welfare money to visit strip clubs even if EBT cards are banned from any kind of establishment pseudo-morally prudish men deem socially unacceptable for their "tax" dollars.

We're talking about $12,000 in 3 years, spent by people living each month on a couple hundred dollars in food stamps and a few hundred dollars in cash, maybe with some section 8 and healthcare thrown in. I fail to see what's so outrageous and obscene and abusive. Far less of your tax dollars are aiding this kind of escapism than aids the flat out raping of your country by corporate welfare and the military.

Escapism in poverty is understandable, and all this moral handwringing from the likes of LA Times and commenters would be laughable if it didn't contribute to stigmatizing and demoralizing the poor. Which a lot more of you will be in the upcoming years. Not because the illegals will take your jobs or because the Democrats control anything -- but because America is in fact a plutocracy. The more you stick your head in the sand to this fact, shaking your fists in mock outrage at welfare recipients "abusing the system" by using their cash at strip clubs (*the horror*) rather than expressing outrage at the real culprits, thieves and abusers of your tax dollars, the more likely you are to end up an unfortunate statistic in a cheesy article like this one.

i guess this is why they had to raise taxes. our state is run by the most incompetent and corrupt morons on the planet.

A good reason to go back to food stamps. No cash, credit cards or debit cards. With food stamps, they will need to sell them first and then go to the clubs or get drugs. Not so easy.

Its amazing to me the number of people that complain of our "welfare state" yet idly stand by or even applaud when the "welfare state" issues out subsidies and bailouts for corporations. I can assure you the amount of capital being doled out to corporations has a far greater impact on our economy than any amount given to illegals or welfare recipients-do the math!


Stop being such a bleeding heart, If the people are working at strip club, they can simply go to the nearest store and use their ATM. Do you honestly think that if it was their money they would pay the overally priced ATM fee at a club? or would they use a more sensible ATM at a different location?

We can't keep giving in at every turn just because it could inconvenience someone that is doing the right thing. At some point people have to give a little effort.

Ultimately, does it really matter from where the money was drawn? A recipient could apparently draw the money from another "approved" ATM and still go spend it at a strip club. If it's "money meant to be spent on food and clothes," then a voucher program where the vouchers can only be redeemed for food and clothing would be the first step in curbing the waste. If you're giving people cash, you can't control how they're going to spend it. The system is broken. Sadly, I believe it's broken beyond repair and maybe once it collapses completely, smarter folks will have learned something and know how to (re)build it better.

WAIT A MINUTE. Could it be that the welfare money was going to strip club employees and not customers?

All the strippers are on welfare...duh!!! C'mon! Really?!? Of course it's the strippers! Ive known a few, and they are all, for the most part, dirtballs on welfare for the most part. With several kids that the taxpayers are supporting while all their stripper cash goes strait in their pocket, untaxed of course.

I hope they take away the bennefits of those involved!

Mike Burke, kuruk, and Patriot et al, proud ACLU members. "It's their money, they can use it at strip clubs if they like."

So this is your idea of investigative journalism? No wonder Rolling Stone is getting the really important stories...

As a former CA welfare recipient (I moved out of the state), yes, it's disgusting that people use their welfare benefits in a strip club. You can't even buy cigarettes or alcohol w/welfare, so somebody definitely didn't think to see this coming.

Having said that:

Welfare for 1 person w/no kids is $422 a month. That's not enough money for strippers!!

I"m looking for a job. I am a female w/a B.A. No drugs/alcohol/arrests. I usually do administrative work, but will do anything that I legally and physically can. All you conservatives out there - HIRE.ME. I DO NOT WANT TO LIVE OFF THE STATE OR ANYONE ELSE.

And you wonder why the state budget deficit is $22 billion?

Clueless Comrade Barry entitled his first federal budget “A New Era of Responsibility”. Now there is a new low in Orwellian speak. What his budget really should be called is “A New Era of Servitude – Taking From the Productive to Buy The Votes of The Unproductive”.

Why am I responsible to pay for food for children of parents who were irresponsible enough to have children they either couldn’t afford or, more likely, could afford but have learned how to game the system so that they supplement their income with social services?

The Clueless One (who, by the way, is only compassionate with other people’s money as he has never lifted to finger to help his own brother who still lives in a roofless tin shack in Kenya) and our own California Commies are running the country into the ground fast.

No, I don't want to work, to invest, to take risks so that freeloaders can get table dances.

Is there any place left on Earth where a man can be free or do we need to start a new revolution somewhere?

Stopping them from using ATMs at casinos and stripclubs is good but it won't make a bit of difference. Those people will just take out the money somewhere else to spend in those places. The problem is having undeserving people on welfare. Find those who did the deed and kick them off the payroll. That would be a good start.

What is going to happen to those people that used the cards wrongfully they should take the welfare away since oviously they do not need the money. Spending my hard working money.

Even people on welfare need love...

This has always been the problem with Welfare -- the moral character of the people being Welfarized.

If the state would stop allowing any cash withdrawals or cash back on purchases using these cards from any ATM, that would put a big dent in the abuse.

Everything that is authorized by the card can be paid for with the card. Items that are not allowed would not be charged to the card and the individuals would have to find another way to pay for items such as liquor, cigarettes, and strippers.

I use my debit card for everything I purchase and carry virtually no cash at any time.

My new bumper sticker:

Make Building Permits As Easy To Get As Table Dances.

Mike Really? Blame it on the illegals? You can come up with something better. First I’d like to educate you that " Illegal Aliens" cannot get that type of welfare you speak of to do so you have to be a citizen. (Food Stamps / Cash Assistance Quest card) Yet they pay taxes into the welfare system. So really Mike was your frustration?

Mike Burke | June 30, 2010 at 02:28 PM

Just another example of welfare abuse, how many of those recipients do you think were illegal aliens?

If they work at these places, they don't need welfare. To think this is new information is naive. To think this is the tip of the iceberg of corruption and waste in our country is downright depressing and makes one want to overthrow the government.

@jj, illegal is not a race..... throwing out the race card is pathetic in this case. Illegals come from everywhere, china, japan, ireland, russia germany, mexico, time for all to go home.

Yes Chuck B, you know how illegal aliens are known for hanging out at strip clubs. Boo hoo you work long hours and only get to spend 1 hour with your son. You are an ignoramus.

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