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Dems’ COVID Checks Also Went to Notorious Cop Killer Mumia Abu-Jamal

Convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal received a $1,400 taxpayer-funded check thanks to President Joe Biden’s COVID relief bill, Delaware Valley Journal is reporting.

State corrections officials confirmed the payment to Abu-Jamal, the former public radio journalist convicted of the 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.

He’s among the most high-profile prisoners in the Keystone State to receive a payout, much to the chagrin of those who have opposed his release over the years.

George Bochetto, an attorney for Faulkner’s widow Maureen, told DVJournal the payments to convicted felons like Abu-Jamal are “insanity.” He called out Democrats for killing an amendment that would have nixed the payouts to incarcerated felons like Abu-Jamal.

During the debate over the American Rescue Plan Act — Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID bill passed on a straight party-line vote — a GOP-backed amendment denying COVID dollars to criminals in prison was defeated in a 49-50 vote. A single Democrat’s “yes” vote would have moved the ban forward, which creates a political problem for Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) similar to the one facing Sen, Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire.

The key difference? Casey isn’t up for re-election in ten months.

“Whoever authorized the mailings of those checks out should be shot,” said Bochetto.¬†“To send murderers $1,400 in prison is both a complete utter and waste of money, and it sends the absolute wrong message.”

The 2021 relief checks to prisoners became a national story last week when news broke that Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had received a payment. Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to allow them to seize the funds as restitution to victims of the 2013 terrorist attack. The judge had yet to rule as of Tuesday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The question of whether New Hampshire’s own notorious cop-killer, Michael Addison, received a COVID relief check remains unanswered. A spokesperson for the Department of Corrections says no payment was deposited in his DOC account. However, because New Hampshire allows prisoners like Addison to maintain bank accounts outside the prison, he could have received a check without their knowledge.

Opponents of the Biden relief bill argued at the time it was too big and spent too much money on non-COVID-related items. Popular when it passed, the massive spending bill is now being blamed for contributing to the inflation currently plaguing the economy. Even Biden has acknowledged his spending plan is part of the problem.

But money going to terrorist bombers and convicted cop killers is, for some, beyond the pale.

“On what planet could someone justify sending a taxpayer-funded check to the man who killed and wounded hundreds of Americans in a terrorist attack?” demanded the National Republican Senatorial Committee in a statement.

Abu-Jamal has been described by The New York Times as “perhaps the world’s best-known death-row inmate,'” and his case has become a cause celebre among progressives and social-justice activists. While some claim he’s wrongly convicted, his conviction has been upheld by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Third Circuit Court, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Abu-Jamal’s death sentence, however, was vacated by the District Court in 2001 over questions about jury instructions during the sentencing phase.

“It’s an insult to every taxpayer,” Bochetto said. “I don’t want my taxes going to cop killers sitting in prison.”

Hassan Confirms Support for COVID Cash to Convicts, But Also Pushed Restitution Efforts

A day after NHJournal’s report on her vote to keep COVID checks going to convicted criminals, U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan confirmed her support for the policy. At the same time, she pointed to a letter confirming the funds could be seized to go toward victim restitution.

Many New Englanders were shocked to learn convicted Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had received a $1,400 stimulus check as part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act passed on a straight partisan vote in March. Last week, acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Nathaniel Mendell asked the court to let the government confiscate the funds from Tsarnaev as restitution for the victims of the 2013 bombing.

Republicans opposed the ARP provision sending funds to incarcerated felons like Tsarnaev, and they proposed an amendment to prevent it. The amendment was voted down on a 49-50 vote, with all 50 Democrats in favor of keeping the checks flowing. If a single Democrat had supported the amendment, it would have passed.

Hassan refused to respond to NHJournal’s questions about her vote. However, after the news broke, she gave a statement to Fox News that did not contradict the reporting but instead touted her efforts to partially undo the policy.

“Sen. Hassan believes that the funds Tsarnaev received must be seized for victim restitution,” Hassan’s spokesperson Laura Epstein told Fox News in a Friday email. “She led the successful push in the Senate to help ensure that this could happen.”

Epstein referenced a letter to the U.S. Treasury Department from Hassan and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) asking for clarification on whether state officials would be able to seize the money they and their fellow Democrats voted to send all incarcerated felons.

“We strongly support state efforts to seize criminals’ Economic Impact Payments and to ensure that these payments benefit families victimized by crime rather than incarcerated criminals,” the two senators wrote. The Treasury Department confirmed the funds could be confiscated to pay outstanding restitution orders.

“To the extent permitted by applicable state and local law, amounts paid in the third round of [economic impact payments] may be subject to garnishment by state governments, local governments, or private creditors, as well as pursuant to a court order (which may include fines related to a crime, administrative court fees, restitution, and other court-ordered debts),” a Treasury official wrote.

But what about the millions of COVID relief payments that went to convicted murderers, rapists, and other felons who don’t have court-ordered debts? They would keep the money they received, thanks to the ARP plan as passed by Democrats and signed by President Joe Biden.

Hassan sent her letter to the Treasury Department two months after her vote to kill an amendment blocking the checks, a fact her GOP critics noted.

“It sounds like Hassan was for giving money to convicted murderers before she was against it,” quipped New Hampshire GOP Executive Director Joe Sweeney.

State Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) told NHJournal Hassan’s vote “is just one more outrageous example of how out of touch Maggie Hassan is with New Hampshire. Funding the radical progressive agenda and voting to send stimulus money to the Boston Bomber, a convicted mass murderer who already resides in prison at taxpayers’ expense for the rest of his pathetic life, is not representing our New Hampshire values. Time for the 603 way rather than the D.C. way.”

Morse is expected to enter the GOP U.S. Senate primary for a chance to challenge Hassan in November. Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith, who has all but announced his candidacy, tweeted his comment: “There’s¬†only one correct answer here from Sen. Hassan: ‘Yes, I regret voting to send stimulus checks to Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and convicted cop-killer Michael Addison.’ Period. Full stop.”

The status of Addison’s COVID relief check is still unclear. Addison is New Hampshire’s only death row prisoner, convicted for the murder of Manchester police officer Michael Briggs in 2006. He remains on death row despite the state’s repeal of its capital punishment law in 2019.

Paul Raymond with the New Hampshire Department of Corrections told NHJournal the DOC had no record of Addison receiving the ARP COVID relief funds. However, he also said New Hampshire allows prisoners like Addison to maintain bank accounts outside the DOC system, and it’s possible the funds could have gone there.

In a sense, this story isn’t news. The day the Senate voted down the amendment blocking these funds, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) tweeted: “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Bomber, murdered three people and terrorized a city. He’ll be getting a $1,400 stimulus check as part of the Democrats’ ‘COVID relief’ bill.”

The left-leaning Washington Post claimed at the time this statement was untrue and gave it ‘Two Pinocchios” in its fact-checking section. After the news of Tsarnaev’s payment last week, the Post acknowledged Cotton was correct and amended their reporting.