ON-Lion Letter
In August, National Review's Jillian Kay Melchior was able to obtain three free cell phones for herself even though she is employed and not living anywhere near the poverty level.  Melchior, the Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, applied eight times for and was sent three phones from the Federal Communications Commission's Lifeline program.

"To be eligible for Lifeline, the applicant is supposed to be receiving some significant government benefit -- food stamps, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, public housing assistance, etc.," according to Melchior.  "But because welfare eligibility has expanded under the Obama administration, more people than ever before are qualified to receive 'free' cell-phone service -- part of the reason why Lifeline mobiles have become commonly known as Obamaphones.  Alternatively, applicants can qualify if their household income is less than 136 percent of the federal poverty line.

"But as with any federal program with too much funding, too little oversight, and perverse financial incentives," she writes, "Lifeline has become infamous for rampant fraud and abuse."

Among other places, Melchior has appeared on Fox News and the Fox Business channel to discuss her work.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports the Franklin Center's Rhodes Fellowship -- named in honor of Thomas L. "Dusty" Rhodes, a former National Review publisher and a former chairman of the Bradley Foundation's Board of Directors.
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