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Bleeding the Beast: Polygamist sect accused of abusing welfare

In discussions about Warren Jeffs and the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) church the topic of “bleeding the beast,” or taking advantage of government money, often comes up.  A former polygamist sect member, Laurie Allen, talked about it in an interview on In Session. Allen produced "Banking on Heaven," a documentary about the FLDS under Jeffs’ leadership.  During our interview last week, Allen claimed the FLDS collects food stamps and other forms of public assistance because many of the women technically are still single.  In the FLDS, multiple women are often “celestially married” to one man, with only one of the women being legally married to their collective husband. That means the other illegitimate wives can collect assistance for themselves and their children.

Allen said the group also collects government assistance for children with disabilities – disabilities she attributes to inbreeding in the FLDS community. She claims “in the state ofArizonaalone, they’re getting between 20 and 30 million dollars a year” and most of the members “are living off taxpayer money.”  She interviewed former Attorney General Terry Goddard in her documentary. Goddard told her 80% of the FLDS members are on welfare and more than 4,000 of them have state medical insurance access.

In 2006, CNN’s Randi Kaye wrote a blog detailing how polygamy affects taxpayers. In the blog, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff made a similar assertion, stating "their religious belief is that they'll bleed the beast, meaning the government. They hate the government, so they'll bleed it for everything they can through welfare, tax evasion and fraud."

Another example of bleeding the beast involves property taxes. In 2005, a judge appointed an accountant to help collect more than a million dollars in overdue property taxes from polygamist property owners living inColorado City,Arizona. Six years later, the group is said to owe more than $2 million in delinquent property taxes inColoradoCityandHildale,Utah.

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