In ‘Pandemic, Inc.’, J. David McSwane of ProPublica exposed the fraud in the COVID business: The shots.

a face mask
a face mask

When the COVID crisis hit in 2020, the federal government needed N95 masks and other protectors before that – so it started offering deals to companies that pledged to provide to them, often at a height. J. David McSwane, ProPublica historian and author of the new book Pandemic, Inc .: Chasing Capitalists and property thieves when we get sick, The staggering number of those departments did not know how to provide medical care.

In fact, when McSwane and other publishers began to compile the data, they found that two months into the illness, the federal government had previously provided more than one. billions of dollars to companies that have not had a government agreement. “They’re just throwing deals left and right,” he said.

Many are treated by people with a history of fraudulent complaints – they all have public records if anyone has trouble looking.

“The federal government wants to hide who gets those loans, it’s just silly … So we, along with some other news outlets, have to sue to get it,” McSwane said. . “And behold, when we found and began to ponder, we found deception everywhere.”

McSwane’s new book is a moving story of the many ways innocent criminals have recovered from the nation’s health crisis, and the ways the government has failed to protect the public from money thieves.

Highlights of the interview

the cover of 'Pandemic Inc.'

Atria / One Signal Publishers

In many cases fraudulent loan applications

We certainly are not [know the scale] aka. As with any medical program done because of the illness, it is faster than anything else. Money is flying out the door with little intention of looking at people’s demands. So we’re playing catch. …

The Paycheck Protection Program has this kind of quirky that my colleagues at ProPublica first described, that hundreds of fraudulent farmers don’t have, such as orange groves in Minnesota and dairy farmers in Florida. Disadvantages. … It’s kind of a fraudulent business. My co -workers went through business files, searched all this stuff, and found this stuff [businesses] Do not stay. But the money was paid, no one knew. So federal prosecutors have been pursuing this type of fraud for years.

At a contractor he met to get a government deal to get the N95 masks in the short term.

Robert Stewart Jr. It was a contract maker that hurt me those first few weeks [of the pandemic]. … I found out he had a very large deal – $ 34.5 million with the Veterans Administration, which maintains the largest hospital system in the country. And he has no feet. There is no evidence that he has had a federal agreement before. …

Now, the Trump administration is kind of trying to catch up after weeks of inaction, and we only see money flying out the door. And I doubt they didn’t actually discuss any of these agreements. And we saw some anecdotal evidence of that, and I decided to call him and ask him what was going on. And he said, “I’m the real deal. I’ve got a shipment of 6 million masks and I’m giving them to the VA, and I’m going on a private plane tomorrow. And I said , “Yeah, he’s very interesting. Do you think I should sign up? “

According to the manufacturer it does not have any N95 masks

I got on the plane and we actually left. I said, “Yeah, I’m very happy. How can you get masks if no one can get them and there are so many?” And he said, “Yeah, of course, I don’t have any. Someone bought them from under me. And he’ll give me the masks the next day.

Inability of the contractor to give his consent, and the nature of the disclosure of a general deficiency.

Robert Stewart Jr. Was not paid for the masks he did not donate. And that is the response of the federal government, Yes, we can give all the deals we want, because we don’t pay unless they are given. He was paid heavily through the Paycheck Protection Program.

This is not the first time the contractor has sworn and cannot deliver. Done all the time. But the idea is that the federal government is not ready to throw all the rules out the window, and our government strategy has become: We will just give agreements to everyone. We will throw them everywhere and see who comes back. And those are very tragic consequences. … You have states and cities and hospitals competing for these supplies. Brokers know that the federal government has decided to spend $ 6 a mask on this special deal, and that will increase the prices for each.

In his opinion it was impossible to deceive

You have to think of the kingdom as a giant cookie cutter. Everyone is trying to find a piece. So when it was announced that there was going to be a risky investment – which means no controversy or traditional competition – I quickly realized that this was the case. Because this is a lot, and a lot of money, and a lot of people are trying to get it. So in reality, I know there is going to be a lot of deception.

But we are in a box. And I wouldn’t argue that there’s nothing better than fixing the federal budget. But I think the real question is: Why do we allow ourselves to live in this position where we are so trusted, our government is so dependent on mercenaries … we should, not got it And the answer is no.

If we had followed some of the advice left by various government organizations and the private sector to expand the Strategic National Stockpile we would have been aware of these things, in those first few weeks at least not. it is a riot. And maybe we can invest our money in smart people. And some people think that by combining all this madness, all this rubbish, all this deception, maybe we can rewrite the plan and make sure we are not in this situation the next time we get sick. disease, said by scientists. it is impossible.

Sam Briger and Joel Wolfram created and edited this interview for publication. Natalie Escobar and Seth Kelley changed for the site.

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