As Shift has previously reported, the Employment Security Department (ESD), under the control of Democrat Governor Jay Inslee’s partisan political appointee, Commissioner Suzi LeVine, has been plagued by fraud, incompetency, and now, as reported by the Seattle Times, is going full cover-up by blocking audits that were designed to discover what happened and help fix the problems.
The Washington State Auditor, Pat McCarthy, herself a Democrat, wrote to Commissioner LeVine back in October, accusing LeVine and her department of blocking the investigation into the $576 million fraudulently stolen from the state which the auditor’s office was conducting.
When Democrats start accusing other Democrats of wrongdoing, it must be really bad.
McCarthy warned LeVine that if she didn’t allow the auditors to do their jobs, she would report that “management interference” had prevented her department from completing its work. That would certainly be something that Inslee would find embarrassing and thus like to avoid while he is still auditioning for a job in the Biden administration.
LeVine responded by lying that she welcomed the audits, but then subsequently erected roadblocks to the auditors trying to obtain information on what actually happened, such as keeping them from talking to front-line staff (who would most likely be aware of LeVine’s mistakes). This is typical cover-up behavior for LeVine, who doesn’t like to have the light of transparency shone on her incompetence. Back in June, LeVine was just as evasive to questions from the press on what her department was doing.
When quizzed by reporter Hana Kim from Q13 Fox on the massive backlogs in processing unemployment claims cases, LeVine pushed back on the assertion that claims were taking 1-2 days to process. Kim has heard multiple stories of claims taking several weeks. In response, LeVine started spouting statistics about claim volumes and blamed the actual applicants for the failure in the system, instead of saying ESD would investigate the problems and find a solution.
Unable to recognize the abject failure in her own leadership, LeVine is looking to put the blame on everyone but herself. She has been forced to admit that fraud was happening at her department before the coronavirus emergency hit in March. The question is then, if the problems existed before, why didn’t Commissioner LeVine deal with them earlier?
LeVine’s response – ‘Blame the criminals.’
Then there was LeVine’s removal of the criteria that checks for fraudulent claims. Politically motivated to make Inslee look good, it allowed LeVine to immediately pay out claims, a significant amount of which we now know were illegal claims, just to make Inslee’s claims numbers look better.
In effect, Inslee and LeVine lowered the bar so they could hit their self-imposed political target of clearing the backlogged claims. They cheated and Washington taxpayers will end up footing the bill for claims that would normally have been rejected.
The bigger question is – how does Suzi LeVine still have a job? In any normal management situation, a senior hire like her would have been fired months ago.
It’s time, as Republican Senator Mark Schoesler recently said, that “Sometimes people do the honorable thing and resign. And that might be the best.”
Ultimately the buck stops with Governor Inslee, and he needs to accept responsibility for LeVine’s failure. Inslee, who appointed Commissioner LeVine in 2018, has yet to offer any real solutions to these kind of reoccurring mis-management problems in his administration.
Inslee has, however, proven during the coronavirus crisis that he is good at destroying jobs and creating unemployment. He should not hesitate to create one more unemployed person, Commissioner LeVine.
Maybe when LeVine is out of work, and having to file for unemployment, she will finally understand how bad things are.
Commissioner Suzi LeVine has failed the citizens of Washington and failed to run the Employment Security Department. It’s time for her to go.