One of the major providers of the free cell phones—3.8 million subscribers as of late 2011—is Miami-based TracFone Wireless, a company whose president and CEO, Frederick “F.J.” Pollak, has donated at least $156,500 to Democratic candidates and committees this cycle, including at least $50,000 to the Obama campaign.
Pollak’s wife, Abigail, is a campaign bundler for Obama who has raised more than $632,000 for the president this cycle, and more than $1.5 million since 2007. She has personally contributed more than $200,000 to Democratic candidates and committees since 2008.
The Pollaks hosted Obama at their Miami Beach home in June for a $40,000-per-plate fundraising dinner, and hosted a similar event with Michelle Obama in July 2008. The couple personally donated a combined $66,200 to Obama’s reelection effort that year.
Visitor logs indicate that Frederick and Abigail Pollak have visited the White House seven times. In 2009, the president appointed Abigail to serve on the “Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of the American Latino.”
TracFone, a direct financial beneficiary of the Lifeline program, receives $10 a month for each subscriber in the form of federal subsidies. The company can make an additional profit selling extra minutes to Lifeline subscribers who exceed their monthly allowance of 250 prepaid minutes.
TracFone and other wireless providers claim that revenue from selling additional minutes to Lifeline customers is low, but decline to publicly release such figures.
Just another cozy little Solyndra-type deal...nothing to see here......
Actually the cell phone provision began in 2009. The original program was to provide land line service in rural areas.
Yet when I was a mentor for big buddy my little buddy (10 years old), her older sister (12 years old), her younger sister (7 years old) and her grandmother (60-70 years old, no job and not looking for one) all had these phones in case they needed to call each other while grandma let the kids run around their neighborhood at will.
What program? How does it stop the abuse? Serious talk.
Changes to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse, saving up to $2 billion over 3 years
Setting a savings target of $200 million for 2012, and putting the Commission in a position to adopt an appropriate budget for the program in early 2013 after review of a six-month report and one-year report on the effects of the Order.
Creation of a National Lifeline Accountability Database to prevent multiple carriers from receiving support for the same subscriber. The database will build on FCC efforts in 2011 that eliminated nearly 270,000 duplicate subscriptions in 12 states following review of over 3.6 million subscriber records, saving $33 million.
Creation of eligibility databases from governmental data sources, enabling fully automated verification of consumers’ initial and ongoing Lifeline eligibility. This would reduce the potential for fraud while cutting red tape for consumers and providers. A database based on the three most common federal benefit programs through which consumers qualify for Lifeline will be created no later than the end of 2013.
Establishing a one-per-household rule applicable to all providers in the program, defining household as an “economic unit” so that separate low-income families living at the same address can get connected.
Establishing clear goals and metrics to measure program performance and effectiveness.
Phasing out support for services such as Toll Limitation – subsidies to carriers for blocking or restricting long-distance service—and ending Link Up – subsidies to carriers for initial connection charges. Link Up will continue in Tribal lands.
Reducing burdens on carriers by establishing a uniform, interim flat rate of reimbursement, allowing carriers to obtain a subscriber’s signature electronically, and streamlining enrollment through uniform, nationwide eligibility criteria.