The way things have been going so far, another Democrat scandal is nothing to be surprised about. However, not many would have suspected Michelle Obama, the former first lady, of being involved in a criminal scandal.
It turns out that Michelle Obama’s advisor and go-to person for her infamous and highly-criticized school lunch program, David Binkle, has been defrauding the program for years. He illegally funneled $65,000 of government money into his own personal account between 2010 and 2014, according to The Los Angeles Times.
David Binkle served for years as the health advisor for the Los Angeles Unified School District, working to set up nutritional standards for the children of Los Angeles in that system’s public schools. He was so successful at first that he was brought to the White House to serve as an advisor to the first lady to help standardize these initiatives across the country.
Winning numerous awards, Binkle would even go on to make appearances at Tedx talks. What people didn’t realize, however, was that this Obama advisor was pocketing some of the district’s money into his personal account, a sum of approximately $65,000. He is now facing 15 felony counts, including embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds.
He pled not guilty in his court appearance Tuesday and was released on $220,000 bail. If found guilty, he could face up to 13 years in prison.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the school district said, “While recognizing that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, the charges against Mr. Binkle are extremely upsetting as they do not reflect the professionalism, ethics, and character we expect of all L.A. Unified employees.”
Court documents went on to detail how Binkle repeatedly funneled district funds to the tune of $5,000 to $15,000 at a time between 2010 and 2014. Prosecutors would also go on to say that he forged an application to become a vendor with the district and failed to disclose outside financial interests.
Even worse, George Beck, an employee who was in charge of accounting and budgets, noticed something suspicious in Binkle’s management of the funds and issued a complaint. Beck was later laid off, supposedly in retaliation, his concerns ignored.
When Beck found out that Binkle was charged with fraud, he said, “You have absolutely made my afternoon…All these internal control entities that were supposed to be exercising internal control were not doing it. I brought it to their attention, and they did nothing about it.”
Embezzlement scandals are always a shocking thing, but more disturbing is how Binkle’s popularity with the Obamas made him practically immune to criticism within his own organization, and that people were willing to turn a blind eye to any suspicions they may have had.
It appears that Michelle Obama’s signature accomplishment is going to be undone by the Trump administration, who is poised to act on recommendations from the School Nutrition Association to scale back the federal nutrition standards she championed with Binkle. A group of over 57,000 members of the food service industry is standing behind the efforts to change her policies, according to a story published by CNN.
Aside from the cost of this program and the stringent standards it imposed on school districts across the country, children simply didn’t like the food, and much of it ended up in the garbage. It would seem the program didn’t take into consideration the clientele it was servicing.