Feds again urge Maine to delay EBT card photos

AUGUSTA (AP) — Gov. Paul LePage's administration said Monday that it will begin putting photos on welfare benefit cards throughout Maine, but federal officials are again urging the state to wait to ensure that it is complying with laws and regulations.

Linda Coan O'Kresik/Bangor Daily News

This is a sample photo EBT card. Monday was the first day of the test program in Bangor for a new system of putting photos on EBT cards.

Maine has been issuing the new electronic benefit transfer cards in Bangor since April, and Department of Health and Human Services said it will start handing them out to recipients statewide starting Tuesday to "strengthen the integrity" of its welfare programs.

But in a letter Monday to DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it is "strongly urging" the state to hold off on the expansion of the cards.

Kurt Messner, acting northeast regional administrator for the Food Nutrition Service, said it has not received responses from the DHHS to a variety of questions and concerns regarding the plan. He warned that Maine is at risk of losing federal funding if it violates any laws or regulations in the program.

The Republican governor's administration contends that having photos on the cards will help prosecute those who illegally sell the cards for drugs or cash. The new cards also state that misusing them is a crime.

"The card now makes it crystal clear that using EBT inappropriately is a crime, which makes it easier to prosecute those who take advantage of the system," LePage said in a statement.

About 2,200 people have received the new cards in the Bangor area so far, the DHHS said. There are about 223,000 active EBT cards in the state.

Starting Tuesday, recipients can get their photos taken at their local DHHS offices and the cards will be mailed to them. They can use their old card until their new one has been activated, the department said.

The DHHS has estimated that it will cost $165,922 initially to issue the new cards and $4,154 annually in the future.

Advocates for the poor have said that photos will be ineffective and put up barriers for some to access their benefits.

The Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association said there will be no difference in how businesses handle the cards.

Executive Director Shelley Doak said she has advised businesses to adhere to their agreement with the USDA, which says they can't treat welfare recipients any differently than any other customer.

"We always maintain that a customer is a customer is a customer," she said.

Federal officials had asked Maine to delay the pilot project, but state officials moved forward anyway and said the opposition defied "common-sense logic."

Mayhew said Monday that the experience in Bangor has better prepared the DHHS for statewide implementation. The department did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Monday regarding the letter from the federal government.

In a June 10 letter to the state, the USDA listed a number of questions and concerns regarding the plan.

Among them, it said that the notice the DHHS sent to businesses does not sufficiently inform them that they cannot ask to compare EBT cardholders to their photos unless they do that for people using regular debit and credit cards.

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 's picture

What business do you have

responding to, or making comments.
You post that your from lewiston but all of us who know you know who you are where your from.I can't wait for the S/J to catch on and delete you like several others who were posting as aliases.
You should tend to issues in your home state that need attention.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


I post since SJ knows who I am, where I live and also for your information I also notified SJ about my town correction and was told that the city didn't matter such as Gravel from his location that he states he lives in Rosemont and said he lives in Nevada....

You see Fred, I saved the email from SJ about this matter and I don't owe you nothing but, Keep hoping......

You see Freddie I pay taxes in Maine, own property in Maine..have family in Lewiston and all over Maine, so that is none of your business too.....

So get over yourself before you do it all over yourself....

 's picture

If the shoe fits

If the shoe fits wear it Jerry, but apparently you didn't notice that I was referencing any one in particular unless you have a guilty conscious.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Ah yes

deflection....keep trying....you stated that YOU KNOW....end of story, end of you....

Your words...posted on SJ....
I personally know a woman who buys EBT cards from a recipient and uses them to purchase her groceries...."

Rumford Maine Police Department.
150 River St, Rumford, ME 04276
(207) 364-4551

 's picture

Too much abuse

There is way too much abuse with the EBT card system, lets hope this will eliminate most of it. I personally know a woman who buys EBT cards from a recipient and uses them to purchase her groceries,even though she is well off and has a nice pension, and I would assume that a lot of individuals do the same thing.

The photo won't change that,

The photo won't change that, even if it were true (and it does strain credibility), because stores must accept them whether the picture matches or not, since family members and caretakers are allowed to use the cards. So, if this person actually exists, all she needs to do is say she's a caretaker, and the store is not allowed to do more.

And so what if she does? There is no reason at all to assume that this one example is an indicator that "a lot" of people do. Please show evidence to support your unfounded conjecture.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Not only

what you said that the person who is buying for a friend, relative, partner, whatever that knows and uses the PIN code, the card regardless of the photo still needs to be acceptable to use...the merchant cannot deny the user..

That is what is really mind blowing that these right wing lunatics, misinformed gulpers of LePage rhetoric follow anything he said and they such as Fred and others like himself refuse to educate themselves and take their word as gospel, not knowing about the reality of the use and the LAW....

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Just what do you consider????????

Just what do you consider "way to much"? Every single person you ask, will tell you they know someone, they heard someone, or someone told me that, the list goes on. Fact of the matter is, the number of fraudulent EBT card use, is realatively small. LePage is trying to amplify the problem so his push to cut welfare fraud will look more substantial. The man is grasping at straws, he's running out of time in the polls.
I'm not saying there isn't fraud in the welfare system. I remember twenty, thirty years ago, you could by food stamps about as easily as a pack of cigarettes. Many changes have been made over the years that have helped to stem the flow of fraudulent food stamps. There is no fail safe plan that will completely eradicate fraud, we all know that. Putting huge amounts of money into a program that has no real target and very little chance of making a difference is a total waste.
I think Paul LePages attempt to fix what's really not broken, is a last ditch effort to gain popularity, to gain votes, to become Governor again. I also think he realizes, his past will soon catch up to him. People will think long and hard about what they don't have this year that they did have four years ago. You can't go around treating people like crap for three and a half years, then expect some last minute reprieve at the ballot box. I still say that his campaign committee should reimburse the State for these picture EBT cards. They are after all, politically motivated to attract voters. If there are any willing to give this basket case another four years....................

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

So small, the cost of the photo cards is more than the loss,

not including all of the mishaps that have been recorded with two other states with law suits and denial of eligible users......again LePage spending a dollar to chase a dime.....

"there were about 50,000 EBT transactions per month, or nearly 1.8 million in the nearly 36-month surveyed time period. So the 3,701 transactions in question amount to only about two-tenths of 1 percent of total purchases and ATM withdrawals."


FRANK EARLEY's picture

Anyone else would have................

Anyone else would have taken that information when it was first reported, and tried something different. .2% in itself is a testament to how well the earlier efforts were to combat fraud. I was thinking from the very beginning of this fantasy of his, that he would push his ideas. Win or lose, he is probably going to take credit for the relatively small amount of fraud already on record, and call his efforts a success. In his mind he can't lose, unfortunately we are the real losers.............

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Let's be honest

Paul the Tealiban would tell you that you need fire insurance as the fire is going on and try and sell you a policy.....

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

It goes like this

not only are you an accessory after the fact....

An accessory is a person who assists in the commission of a crime, but who does ... acts or omissions, accompanied by the relevant mens rea (Latin for "guilty mind"), ... before the crime is committed is known as an "accessory before the fact".

A felony with the intent to help the person avoid arrest or punishment. An accessory after the fact may be held liable for, inter alia, obstruction of justice.

So you just admitted you are breaking the law, where you are here condemning others for doing the same you are doing right now...

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Well then Freddie

you are as guilty as she is and you are abusing the system too...you should be arrested for harboring a felon.......since you have only 1 in 1000 you will not solve it with photos, that is proven but then you want to waste money on a proven system that failed in two other states...

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Again the Mayhew syndrone

with the fail safe being missed....this wannabe hack has always had the horse or in her case, the ass, behind the cart, on anything she tries to trolley down the road.....

"Among them, it said that the notice the DHHS sent to businesses does not sufficiently inform them that they cannot ask to compare EBT cardholders to their photos unless they do that for people using regular debit and credit cards."

Maine will have better days once the IG is put into place by Michuad and she is in the unemployment line, eating off what she despises for others needing to live with assistance to move ahead....

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Mary Mayhew and the U.S.

Mary Mayhew and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has had plenty of time to review and comment on Maine's law. The US Department of Agriculture is only interested in dragging out their review indefinitely because they disagree with the law.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture needs to piss or get off the pot.

and because, as noted in the

and because, as noted in the article, she has chosen not to respond to their concerns

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Then Maine should move

Then Maine should move forward with implementing the regulation unabated.

Maine should move ahead

Maine should move ahead because Mahew is ignoring their questions and risks severe penalties? That makes no sense whatosever.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

The clock is ticking............

The clock is ticking, Paul LePage can't wait to see if what he is doing is legal or not. It's an election year and whether this plan works or not, it would appear to the casual reader that he is accomplishing something. They fail to see the possible cost to the state if the plan fails not to mention the Federal funds the state may lose for ignoring the Federal government's request for more information. LePage is to smart to take orders from anyone, even the federal government, the guy's with all the money.
I just feel LePage is again wasting taxpayer money to facilitate another phony campaign stunt. If this new plan of his fails, he'll be half way to Florida, on our dime. He won't be around to clean up the mess he has caused..............

MARK GRAVEL's picture

If I were LePage, losing

If I were LePage, losing Federal funding is the catalyst I need to stop funding welfare altogether using matching taxpayer dollars.

I see LePage's actions as a win-win for the Maine taxpayer.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Mark just a quick question.......

You are hell bent on eliminating government spending you wish to cut all safety nets for those in need. No welfare for anyone. What are you going to do when something happens to you, how would you feel if there wasn't anything there to help, even just for a while. Even with a tank of oil, a months electric bill paid. Just all the little things people experience when a disaster hits. I know, nothing could take you down, or so you think. Just try to imagine a world abiding by Mark Gravel Rules. I would suspect a lot of pain and death will result, do you not agree?????????

MARK GRAVEL's picture

No, I do not agree that

No, I do not agree that people will be experience pain and death by cutting overall welfare 50% or more and going back to the days of charity.

By the way, America and other countries are moving in that direction of "Mark Gravel's Rules". I believe that threatens some people and the cause to discredit Mark Gravel's movement to smaller government. Start adjusting!


America's Mr. F. N. Right and worlds leading expert on ..... on everything including welfare reduction.

Mark has it so easy. All he

Mark has it so easy. All he has to do is spit out the right key phrases from the Libertarian cookbook and you guys go rabid. He probably has a keyboard macroto do it for him. Why let the troll do this to you. Personally, I feel it would be far more entetaining to say nothing to him and watch him flail around trying to find someone to respond to his button pushing. Like that other article he responded to by putting out the same comment three times until he finally got a sufficiently rabid response (from someone I haven't seen in these forums before).

MARK GRAVEL's picture

My comments are candidly my

My comments are candidly my own, and I stand behind them 100%. Here is one tailored specifically for you. People who respond with personal attacks instead of counting my assertions are reacting out of emotion because they cannot dispute the my claims.

Show restraint, don't respond to my words of wisdom; do both of us a favor - if you can.


America's Mr. F. N. Right

I am pretty sure I was not

I am pretty sure I was not responding to you. And I was hardly an emotional reaction. I am merely doing what you do: pushing buttons to see what gets a reaction. Looks like I found your buttons.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Scholar's Mate

"to say nothing to him and watch him flail around trying to find someone to respond" .....I no longer feed the troll.....

my response to him has been and will be...Je ne parle pas des menteurs!

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

The Mommon is a spinning top

It is OK for Repubs to spend Government money and setup regulations for oversight when they do it and not when the Dems do it...the Mommon is like a spinning top, always making himself dizzy from his own spin......

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Correction on spelling

Mammon is the fitting MG label....

Gee, you call him that and he

Gee, you call him that and he says *I*am attacking? Apparently in the MG universe being called an insincere troll is a far worse crime.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Too funny

that must really damage his conceited view of himself....

AL PELLETIER's picture

More trouble waiting in the wings.

"It makes it easier to prosecute those who take advantage of the system".
Hum? Did LePage and Mayhew have picture government ID cards when they swindled a half a million bucks in welfare funds to pay their political crony, Alexander?
If they did, it should make it easier to prosecute them. Don't you think?

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


Their photos is in the makings for their mug shots, Frenchman in Orange, for the Federal Prison CDC....


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