Sen. Charles Grassley is an important voice in Washington on many issues of major significance to the future of the nation. While that may be the most significant aspect of his service, he also is a tireless opponent of wasteful and fraudulent government expenditures.
The Iowa Republican has never forgotten his roots on an Iowa farm. He understands that much of the money federal agencies spend is an aggregation of the tax dollars paid by average Americans of modest means. Grassley understands that people work hard to earn that money and have a right to expect it will be spent honestly with wisdom and frugality.
Recovering taxpayer dollars when fraud occurs is an important function of government that Grassley takes very seriously. He is the author of 1986 amendments to the federal False Claims Law. That law is a vital tool in the never-ending battle to make sure that hard-earned tax dollars are not spent inappropriately.
"The federal False Claims Act is an unsung hero in the fight to root out fraud against the federal treasury," Grassley said in a statement issued Dec. 4. "It's proven to be the most powerful tool in recovering taxpayer dollars. The law has recouped tens of billions of taxpayers' dollars that would otherwise have been lost, and it's deterred even more. Whistleblowers are the key to the recoveries. They put their careers forever at risk to expose wrongdoing. Our 1986 qui tam amendments have empowered these people to come forward and not risk their livelihoods to do what is right."
His office announced early this month that since Grassley's 1986 provisions became part of the law, the total amount federal officials have recovered has reached $35 billion. The U.S. Justice Department attributes the recovery of $3.3 billion to Grassley's 1986 provisions.
Grassley keeps a watchful eye on the federal government's campaign against waste and fraud. In 2009, many of the provisions he recommended in 2008 became part of an update to False Claims Act and were included in the Fraud Enforcement Recovery Act, passed that year. According to Grassley, the update helps ensure that no fraud will go unpunished because of legal loopholes.
Fraudulent claims by defense contractors during the 1980s prompted Grassley's initiative. Today the qui tam amendments also recoup billions that would otherwise be lost to health care fraud and mortgage fraud.
The Iowa senator sees potential for even more recoveries if the U.S. Justice Department were to make more aggressive use of the tools Congress has provided.
"Just think of how much money could be recovered if the Justice Department focused its efforts and went after the big fish who committed mortgage fraud and other financial crimes that helped cause the financial crisis," Grassley said in his statement discussing tax dollars used fraudulently.
The Messenger salutes this unrelenting dedication to honesty and frugality in government transactions. Many Americans are cynical about politicians and distrustful of their motives. Sen. Charles Grassley helps counter this disillusionment by the example he sets of outstanding public service.