News

Comcast Newsmakers: Jill Horner speaks with U.S. Representative Tom MacArthur, from the U.S. Congress, about the Heroin Epidemic.

July 7, 2016

Jill Horner speaks with U.S. Representative Tom MacArthur, from the U.S. Congress, about the Heroin Epidemic. Recorded on: 6/29/2016. For more videos and information about your community, go to ComcastNewsmakers.com.

New Jersey Representative, Citing Fraud, Calls on Congress to Investigate FEMA

April 29, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 2.17.25 PM

WASHINGTON — A representative from New Jersey called on Thursday for a congressional investigation into the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood insurance program, alleging that wrongdoing by the agency had prevented thousands of victims of Hurricane Sandy from receiving the payouts they were entitled to in order to rebuild.

The representative, Tom MacArthur, shared new revelations from whistle-blowers that the agency’s process to re-examine insurance claims from the devastating storm — after allegations of fraud arose last year — had itself been plagued by fraud.

Representative MacArthur, a Republican serving the Third Congressional District, said he had been provided three affidavits outlining accusations of impropriety from several whistle-blowers who had worked on a review process set up by FEMA last year to take a renewed look at flood insurance claims after revelations that engineers assessing damage had altered their reports.

Joined by about two dozen people whose homes or businesses had been damaged or destroyed by the hurricane, Mr. MacArthur criticized what he said was a lack of internal controls at FEMA that had permitted an environment in which adjusters were told to deny claims and hide damage, leading to reduced insurance payouts.

“I have seen doctored engineering reports with my own eyes,” he said. “I have seen doctored adjusters’ reports with my own eyes, where an adjuster wrote something was caused by flood and somebody else inserted the word ‘not’” caused by flood.

One of the whistle-blowers, Jeff Coolidge, an experienced insurance claims adjuster, said he reviewed approximately 1,000 flood claims, while working as a contractor for FEMA last fall — almost all of which he said he was required to deny or underpay.

“I left the Sandy review process because it is a sham,” Mr. Coolidge said. “I was literally losing sleep because I didn’t want to be a part of that fraud anymore.”

About 142,000 homeowners filed claims with FEMA after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the New York region in 2012. Reports of wrongdoing were documented by The New York Times and “60 Minutes” along with other news organizations last year, prompting an outcry from many New York and New Jersey lawmakers. In an acknowledgment that its handling of claims made to FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program may have been flawed, the agency said policyholders could seek a new review. A criminal inquiry opened last year by the New York State attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, a Democrat, is continuing.

“I called for the resignation of the FEMA director, and I call for it again today not because I want a scalp but because there has to be accountability,” said Mr. MacArthur, whose district includes parts of Burlington and Ocean Counties. “There has to be. Somebody has to answer for this.”

Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesman for FEMA, said it had “absolutely no incentive” to shortchange policyholders. He said the agency was working to make things right and overhaul the program.

“The bottom line is that these survivors have been through too much already, and the last thing they need more than three years after Sandy is to deal with being underpaid by their insurance company,” he said in a statement. “Survivors always come first, and that is why we’ve set up an unprecedented process to review these claims and pay out every penny owed to policyholders under their policies.”

Over $50 million had gone to policyholders, he added, “and we’re working as quickly as possible — literally in shifts — to continue to make things right.”

The House Financial Services Committee held a hearing last June on the oversight of Hurricane Sandy flood insurance claims. Mr. MacArthur said members of the committee he had spoken with were open to the possibility of new hearings.

Gert Sofman, 59, of Highlands, N.J., who was among the victims at the news conference on Thursday, said she had been largely denied government assistance rebuilding the organic snack shop she ran with her daughter on the grounds that her business had not made enough money to meet their requirements because it had been open for only three months.

On top of that, Ms. Sofman said she also lost her house, leaving behind an empty lot — which she had to continue to pay thousands of dollars to insure.

“Since Sandy, I have paid over eight grand in flood insurance on a house that they would not pay on,” she said. “So where does that eight grand go? I’m homeless.”

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, said he would be in favor of a House or even Senate investigation into what he called “very serious allegations of fraud and criminal activity.”

“I think FEMA has an obligation to get to the bottom of them quickly and take strong action,” Mr. Schumer said on Thursday.

The senator said the National Flood Insurance Program needed to be reformed to prevent the problems after Hurricane Sandy from happening again, a change he said should lead to removing private insurance companies from the program who are “in cahoots” with assessors.

“They’re still on the job in these places,” he said, “and that’s a disgrace.”

MacArthur Appearance On ABC 7 On Your Side

April 14, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 4.13.47 PM

SANDY VICTIM SAYS FEMA FRAUD COSTING HER BIG BUCKS

Sandy victims say FEMA process flawed
7 On Your Side’s Nina Pineda reports.
By
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (WABC) —

This family has a familiar story. Flooded out by Sandy, only got $14,000 from FEMA, even though it will cost nearly a hundred grand more to fix their house. Now they say they were victims of fraud in the review process.

Darrell Wade is dumb-founded. His cancer stricken mom’s Atlantic City house was underwater during Sandy. He says a FEMA adjuster documented all the damage from the floors to the furnace, yet they only got a fraction of their claim.

“I’ve been doing this a lot of years and this is clear simple fraud,” said Augustus Matteis, the Wade’s attorney.

The Wades got $14,000 from FEMA the first time around and were offered even less, $12,000 more in the Sandy Review Process, despite presenting evidence their attorney says proves someone altered FEMA’s adjuster’s report.

“It’s a sham, the entire review process is a sham,” Matteis said.

FEMA’S initial report shows damage to the Wade’s house.

“The adjuster who comes out takes a picture of the furnace and writes right here, flood waters damages water heater and boiler,” Matteis said.

But in another report two weeks later, there’s “no damage” to the boiler.

“Nobody came out in between they simply changed the description,” Matteis said.

Then the floor goes from “damaged” in the first report.

“Somebody literally just typed in a ‘u’ and an ‘n’ so it went from damaged to undamaged,” Matteis said.

“That’s just blatant fraud and that’s why for the second time now I’ve called for the head of FEMA to resign,” said New Jersey Congressman (R-3rd district) Tom MacArthur. He says FEMA relied on the same fraudulent reports for the review process resulting in thousands of homeowners being underpaid a second time.

“I want to know who directed engineers and adjusters to underpay claims its’ too broad to have happened accidentally somebody directed it and I want to know who,” MacArthur said.

The Wades want the same answers, although they’re running out of time. The same year Sandy hit and Barbara retired, she was diagnosed with lymphoma now in Stage 4. Her hope is that the home she worked so hard to maintain will still shelter her family once she’s gone.

“Even if my mom didn’t have cancer I felt as though they should still do at least what they said they were going to do,” Wade said.

FEMA told 7 on your side it’s working with the Wades on a daily basis to see that she is paid every penny due. It also said, it’s taken unprecedented steps to reopen and review claims and it’s paid out over $77 million in under-payments.

Congressman MacArthur appears on Fox News to discuss his plan to have all seals of our Armed Forces made in America.

July 27, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 7.24.17 PM

Nation can do more to help its veterans

May 5, 2015

inquirer

111114_VeteransDay_600

Frank Lindsey, wearing a veterans hat, is surrounded by flags as he attends a Veterans Day parade on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014, in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

By Tom MacArthur

One man from Marlton described it as “something you always live with.” Another said: “Trying to live with this stuff . . . it’s hard. It’s really hard.”

They’re not talking about physical afflictions. These men are both veterans of our Armed Forces, and they’re talking about their post-traumatic stress disorder. For them, it’s the constant reminder of their time in Vietnam more than 40 years ago.

“When I first got home, my parents sent me to a psychologist, and he said I was suffering from malaise,” one former Army sergeant told me. “I didn’t know there was anything available to help me. Nobody ever told us that. I didn’t talk to anybody.”

A former Marine corporal explained it this way: “I know what it’s like to spill blood for your country, and when you come home with problems, you’re smacked in the face and told, ‘There’s nothing wrong with you. Come on, suck it up, you’re a Marine.’ ”

These are the voices of the people I represent, and they speak for veterans all across the country.

We are facing a growing crisis. Too many of these men and women are still suffering, despite a better understanding of mental health and more advanced treatments. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veterans commit suicide every day. If that’s not disturbing enough, there is this: 17 of those 22 never accessed care at a VA facility.

Over the last year, our country faced a crisis of confidence in Veterans Affairs. We were stunned by revelations of systematic failures nationwide that led to outrageous wait times, lost medical records, inadequate care, and avoidable deaths. In response, Congress instituted a number of reforms aimed at increasing VA oversight and expanding flexibility and choice for veterans.

During this session of Congress, we passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act to evaluate and expand suicide prevention and mental-health programs. Thanks to bipartisan efforts, President Obama signed this bill into law.

These are all good steps toward ensuring better care for our returning veterans, but more can and must be done.

After conversations with veterans and mental-health-care providers, I introduced the Veterans’ Mental Health Care Access Act with Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, my Democratic colleague from Texas. It builds upon last year’s efforts by allowing any individual in the Veterans Choice Program to immediately access mental-health care at any facility – anywhere, anytime.

It’s a commonsense idea: If the government pays for a Medicare patient to visit your local hospital, it can and should pay for a veteran who seeks care at that same hospital. In our bill, any facility eligible for Medicare reimbursement is now available for a veteran with a mental-health-care need.

While the Veterans Choice Program made great strides toward ensuring veterans received timely care, it fell short of addressing the crisis of invisible wounds. Many of the veterans I have spoken with addressed the unfortunate stigma surrounding mental health. The Marine corporal quoted above also told me: “You’re afraid to admit there’s something wrong with you. You don’t want people to think you’re crazy.” The Army sergeant described the isolation he felt while suffering from PTSD: “My twin brother was in Vietnam too. He didn’t want to talk about it, even with me. And I didn’t want to talk about it with him.”

Both of these veterans now work through their PTSD support groups to welcome home returning service members, who share similar concerns. One soldier recently home from Afghanistan, where he earned a Bronze Star, lamented that veterans must have better access to mental-health services.

The message from these conversations was clear: The mental-health-care resources veterans couldn’t take advantage of 40 years ago finally exist today, but many are still hesitant to use them. Whether it’s because they don’t know what resources are available or are concerned about the stigma surrounding mental-health issues, it’s clear that our nation is failing to care for its veterans’ needs.

We can start to alleviate some of these concerns by offering veterans the flexibility to visit any facility. Community health centers might offer more privacy than a VA center or different amenities, and that could be enough to encourage our service men and women to seek the help they need. They must have that choice.

We have a clear mission. The men and women who fought and served our country deserve the highest-quality, comprehensive care for their bodies, minds, and spirits. It is our hope that the Veterans’ Mental Health Care Access Act will help us deliver it.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20150505_Nation_can_do_more_to_help_its_veterans.html#Bvgm0jtP0CxBquxp.99

Slow down Fast Track

March 31, 2015

 

logo2

 

By Congressman Tom MacArthur

Thirty years in the private sector has taught me that problem solving requires all parties to work together to get the best results. As a member of Congress now, I believe that lesson is even more important in making policy.

Despite this, the Obama administration has not worked cooperatively with Congress while negotiating new trade agreements, especially the TransPacific Partnership agreement between 11 Pacific nations and the United States. This is a red flag that the best interests of the American economy, corporate and labor alike, are not being well-served. Now, President Barack Obama is requesting Trade Promotion Authority, also known as Fast Track, which would force Congress to vote on his trade agreements without any opportunity to offer suggestions or amendments. Over the last seven years, we’ve seen what happens when Obama tries to work alone. Constant refusals to talk with Congress on difficult legislation, secret discussions on relations with Cuba that harm American interests, repeated unsuccessful attempts to compromise with Iran at great risk to our allies: Obama has failed time and time again to produce positive results.

As an entrepreneur who created and preserved thousands of American jobs, I’m convinced that these trade deals need to be negotiated with as much input as possible. Rewarding Obama with Fast Track Authority to negotiate an international trade deal of this size when he’s proven he’s not interested in working with Congress would be a mistake for both American businesses and workers.

My top priority is always considering how we can create jobs and grow our economy, and I believe my experience in the private sector is helpful when seeking ways to do that. That’s why I support policies that give businesses room to grow while creating new and better-paying jobs for Americans. While government can often be a roadblock in that effort, there are ways it can help. For example, policies that encourage corporate profitability and promote job growth and labor protections are why I sided with both business and organized labor in supporting the Keystone XL pipeline, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program, and the Export-Import Bank.

As for trade agreements, they can have incredible benefits all across the board, but I believe this is best accomplished with input from Congress. And while the president claims to be interested in congressional input, actions speak louder than words. To date, the Obama administration has taken no action to include Congress in its negotiation of trade agreements. Six years into the process, Obama is only now paying lip service to collaboration with his request for Fast Track Authority, instead of meaningfully including Congress.

Obama has not shared the content of the 30 chapters and over 1,000 pages that make up the TPP, and what little we do know does not instill confidence. Had Congress been an active participant in discussions, I would feel much more comfortable about what’s included in this agreement, knowing we had not abdicated our responsibility to protect our own economy, businesses and workers first.

Instead, what little we have seen would likely harm our country while benefiting foreign governments and companies. Included in the TPP is a mechanism called the Investor State Dispute Settlement, which is meant to resolve complaints by foreign companies doing business in the United States, but will instead only violate U.S. sovereignty. This foreign trade tribunal could overturn our laws without any chance for appeal, meaning other governments could simply challenge U.S. laws they don’t like instead of making meaningful reforms to their own market access, currency manipulation or labor protection laws.

On top of that, the TPP is structured as a docking agreement, meaning any country, whether we want it to or not, could join the agreement at any time. This structure is not advisable or necessary. We already have trade agreements with many countries, and any new ones ought to be negotiated with the specifics of our relationship and needs in mind.

With so much stacked against American businesses and workers, I’m deeply concerned about the TPP as it currently stands, and giving Obama the power to force it through Congress would simply be an irresponsible decision. Fast Track is a 41-year-old policy, and while an updated version could work one day, it won’t work under this president. Because I have no faith that Obama will produce the best trade agreement for America’s businesses or the American workforce, organized or otherwise, I cannot support giving him Fast Track Authority.

MacArthur: Rewrite No Child Left Behind to extend local control

March 26, 2015

NORTH HANOVER — Freshman U.S. Congressman Tom MacArthur weighed in on the national debate over Common Core standards and the No Child Left Behind Act on Friday, saying he supports reauthorization of the controversial law with changes that extend greater control to states and local school boards.

“I think the federal government has a role in primary and secondary education, but it should not be an overarching control role,” said MacArthur, R-3rd of Toms River, after meeting with school district officials and leaders from the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

Inquirer Editorial Board: MacArthur better

October 31, 2014

inquirer

Inquirer Editorial Board
October 31, 2014

Here are some clips from the editorial…

“Democrats chose Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard, 40, of Edgewater Park, who does not measure up to the seasoning of the late Rep. John Adler (D., N.J.), Runyan’s predecessor. Belgard’s power to effectuate her desire to help working families could be hobbled by her overly guarded approach to difficult issues.

MacArthur, a former insurance executive and mayor of the North Jersey town of Randolph, is more conversant on policy and politics. Although he hails from Morris County and has mainly summered in Toms River, he does have more of a connection with Ocean County than the carpetbagger appellation would imply. In his nine years as a part-time resident, he has been involved in the community, particularly in helping his neighbors recover from Superstorm Sandy…”

“Because he has the skills to be a more effective member of Congress for the Third District – particularly in a Republican Congress – The Inquirer endorses TOM MACARTHUR.”

MacArthur kicks off GOTV tour with help from Runyan, Saxton

October 21, 2014

bct
Posted: Tuesday, October 21, 2014

 

By David Levinsky Staff writer

 

PEMBERTON TOWNSHIP — With just two weeks left before voters head to the polls, Republican congressional candidate Tom MacArthur kicked off a get-out-the-vote tour Tuesday with the help of two Republicans familiar with the challenges of representing New Jersey’s 3rd District.

Jim Saxton, the district’s representative for over 24 years, and Rep. Jon Runyan, its current congressman, both made a case for voters to elect MacArthur, stating that the former insurance executive’s business experience and willingness to collaborate with other people make him well-suited to continuing their work, particularly the defense of the district’s largest employer, the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

MacArthur is running against Democrat Aimee Belgard to represent the sprawling district, which is made up of almost all of Burlington County and a large portion of Ocean County.

Belgard and MacArthur have promised that protecting the joint base would be their top priority and focus if elected. Over 40,000 jobs are located on the base, and the installation’s economic impact is credited with another 60,000-plus across the region.

Citing the base’s importance, MacArthur said he decided to kick off a tour of all 53 towns in the district in Pemberton Township because of its location in the shadow of Fort Dix, which was merged in 2005 with adjacent McGuire Air Force Base and Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst to become the military’s first tri-service installation.

“(The joint base) is absolutely essential to the economies of both counties,” MacArthur said at the American Legion Eden-Stanley Post 394.

saxtonpressconf

During the kickoff, he pledged to fight any attempt by the Air Force to retire the base’s fleet of KC-10 refueling tankers unless newer replacement tankers are assigned there. He also touted the base’s role in troop mobilization and communications, which he said must also be preserved.

“I will fight for these critical missions and to bring more missions here,” he said.

In addition to defending the joint base, MacArthur promised to fight to restore expired tax credits for employers who hire out-of-work and disabled veterans and create programs to help veterans find work, such as a veterans job corps.

Saxton and Runyan warned of impending threats to the base, including calls among some members of Congress for another round of closures and realignments, and the threat of additional defense cuts, which could conceivably carve out jobs and missions on the installation.

“The concern is that sequester is going to hit and it’s going to cut deep,” Runyan said.

Saxton, who is credited with spearheading the defense of Fort Dix, McGuire and Lakehurst during past rounds of base closures, said he’s spent hours talking to MacArthur about the joint base’s importance and strategies for protecting and expanding it.

“Tom has become as much of an expert about it as you can become from talking to yours truly. We’ve really beaten the subject to death, and he’s ready to roll up his sleeves and go to work as soon as he’s elected,” Saxton said.

“I’m very pleased to be able to say Tom will make Jon and I very proud to leave the reins in his hands,” he said.

Belgard’s campaign countered that the Democratic county freeholder was better prepared and capable of defending the base’s interests in the next Congress.

“MacArthur has made it perfectly clear that his priorities for Burlington and Ocean counties are deeply out of touch, and that includes the joint base,” said Hannah Ledford, Belgard’s campaign manager. “Throughout this campaign, Aimee Belgard has been the only candidate to consistently demonstrate her unwavering support for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and her vision for it going forward. MacArthur has barely mentioned it, despite ample opportunity at the six joint appearances he’s had with Aimee Belgard over the past month alone.”

Ledford noted that Belgard’s father was a Vietnam veteran who was exposed to Agent Orange and died from stomach cancer, and she accused MacArthur of ducking debate questions about the Republicans’ House-approved budget and its impact on veterans’ health care.

“(Aimee Belgard) has a deep and personal appreciation for our armed forces and our veterans. That’s why she’s made the joint base and veterans’ issues a top priority not only in this campaign, but as a freeholder, and as an honorary commander with the 514th Air Mobility Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst,” Ledford said. “MacArthur can talk all he wants about veterans’ issues and protecting the base, but until he comes clean with voters about how he would vote on Congress’ budget, which risks $146 billion in cuts to veterans’ health care, he’s just another politician talking the talk.”

The candidates are scheduled to face off for the final time Thursday night during a debate hosted by the Burlington County Chamber of Commerce.

 

 

 

Courier Post endorses MacArthur for Congress

October 19, 2014

Courier Post Logo

 

EDITORIAL: MacArthur’s focus on jobs what we need

October 18, 2014

As an offensive lineman for the Eagles, Jon Runyan had a reputation as one of the dirtiest players in the NFL. But Congress proved too rough for Runyan, who is leaving his seat after two terms. The Republican has been frustrated by the lack of teamwork in Washington and openly critical of his party’s role in the dysfunction that culminated in a 16-day shutdown of the federal government.

His retirement leaves the 3rd Congressional District seat up for grabs. Seeking to fill it are Democrat Aimee Belgard, an Edgewater Park lawyer and Burlington County freeholder, and GOP businessman Tom MacArthur, a former mayor of Randolph, Morris County, who moved to Toms River to vie for the job.

While Belgard is a South Jersey native with her heart in the right place, MacArthur has demonstrated an impressive commitment to learning about his adopted district and projects the take-charge attitude needed to get things done. He easily reels off facts and figures about the places he seeks to represent, which includes suburbs, shore towns, farms, urban areas, Pinelands and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

And compared to the mindset of House Republicans who seem content to wait out the clock until President Barack Obama leaves office, MacArthur’s philosophy about government — that it can be a force for great good, as long as it’s limited and focused — is refreshing. He’s good at pointing out specific examples of what he sees as overzealous laws and suggesting real reforms, while acknowledging that a certain amount of regulation is necessary.

As a freeholder on a mostly Republican board, Belgard has shown a willingness to work for people who didn’t vote for her. If she’s elected to Congress, we expect she’d be a solid Democratic vote and amiable with members of both parties. But she seems to be lacking in leadership skills and a passion for policy, and we fear that would make her a less effective advocate for New Jersey.

Too often, her recommendations are some variation of building relationships, studying the issues and coming up with solutions in due time. When the Courier-Post Editorial Board pressed her on how she sees her potential role in Congress, she said, “I would be the voice to get people talking.” The current Congress has many shortcomings, but talking is not one of them.

Though MacArthur’s stances on social issues are slightly to the right of the average resident, he’s in sync with the 3rd District, seemingly one of the few middle-of-the road places left in a country that’s been carved into dependably Democrat and reliably Republican strongholds. Both parties can find common ground in his plans to spur job growth, which start with investing in infrastructure and shoring up transportation funding, and in his ideas for protecting the joint base and helping veterans move into new careers.

Belgard is most passionate when discussing how the pay gap and inadequate health coverage affect women’s lives and those of their families, a toll that is both personal and political. MacArthur, who draws from his experience as an insurance executive to discuss how policies affected his employees, views such issues solely in the context of the economy. Indeed, he brings almost every issue back to the economy. But in a country still struggling to rebound from the Great Recession, that kind of laser focus may be exactly what we need.

On Nov. 4, 3rd District voters who want more concrete solutions and less talking about talking should elect Tom MacArthur.