Clare County Review & Marion Press

Governor, UIA under fire for paying fraudulent unemployment

By Pat Maurer

According to an article by Bruce Walker, Michigan Editor for “The Center Square,” Governor Whitmer and the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA). Have come under fire for “paying approximately $8.5 billion in fraudulent claims since March of 2020.”
The fraudulent payments were uncovered during “an outside audit,” and were discovered last week “after the Michigan Auditor General reported that the UIA, in error, paid out nearly $10 billion in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance from the federally funded (CARES) Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.”
“The UIA has been under fire since the beginning the pandemic in March 2020,” Walker wrote. He said Former Director Steve Gray resigned in November 2020 taking with him a $85,872 severance package in return for a confidentiality agreement.
Walker called the UIA’s billions in payments for fraudulent claims, as quoted by Eric Ventimiglia, executive director for Michigan Rising Action, who called it “a massive hit to taxpayers and the credibility of our government under Gretchen Whitmer.”
Ventimiglia continued in the article saying, “After this $8.5 billion failure, it is hard to believe that Whitmer is capable of getting her state departments back on track.”
Walker wrote in The Center Square article, “State Rep. Steve Johnson, R-Wayland, chairs the Michigan House Oversight Committee, which has repeatedly questioned UIA leadership. Johnson lays the blame for the UIA’s audit results on Whitmer.”
Johnson also said in the article, “The Whitmer Administration should be ashamed that they lost over $10 billion in taxpayer money under their ‘leadership’ and [should] demand that Steve Gray pay back his $85,000 hush fund buyout.”
Johnson announced that the House Oversight Committee will conduct a joint hearing with the Senate Oversight Committee to investigate UIA improprieties.
The article said, “In a letter addressed to the governor, Senator Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan and Johnson, current UIA Director Julia Dale downplayed the billions of dollars erroneously paid out by her department.”
She said, “According to the analysis conducted by Deloitte and Touche LLP [the outside auditors],less than 1 percent of claims paid since October 2020 were estimated to be a result of imposter fraud or intentional misrepresentation. Not only is this below the commonly accepted average, but it is also an improvement upon UIA’s pre-pandemic performance.”
“This is absolutely unacceptable to the taxpayers of Michigan and there should be consequences for this level of gross mismanagement, but alas, if the Whitmer Administration is consistent on anything, there will be no accountability,” Johnson said in the Center Square article.

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