Officials at the White House defended the sour record of Deputy Labor Secretary Julie Su, who was nominated by President Joe Biden as the possible replacement for Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, despite the fact that she ended up overseeing billions in fraud from COVID pandemic relief funds throughout her time as a senior official from California.
Su was responsible for leading the California Labor Department, which was charged with managing the Employment Development Department, as one-tenth of the massive $114 billion in pandemic relief claims which were dealt with by the agency contained some form of fraudulent activity. Yet another 17% of the benefits were made to accounts that ended up being frozen for the investigation, meaning that the massive total level of fraud could have shot past $31 billion, as reported by a report from January 2021 out of the San Francisco Chronicle.
One reporter highlighted quite a few concerns to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre as part of a press briefing last week. The official attempted to justify the events by stating that Su had been forced to deal with one in five unemployment relief claims nationwide.
“It was a historic crush of unemployment claims at the onset of the pandemic. That’s what we were seeing,” she expressed to the reporter. “The design of the initial pandemic unemployment systems and years of national investments in UI modernization led to challenges, including fraud attacks, as you were just stating, across the nation in red and blue states alike. That was happening across the country during the very early stages of the pandemic.”
Jean-Pierre went on to add that Su “took important steps to process a number of claims” and commented that officials with the Biden administration plan to fight pandemic relief fraud. “This is an issue that’s important to her, strengthening those safety nets, and also an issue that’s important to the President that he’s actually taken action on,” she went on.
Despite fraudsters managing to steal as much as $60 billion from the various federal unemployment programs created by lockdown-era stimulus bills, as expressed in a report from the Government Accountability Office. Other estimates claimed that close to $400 billion, or just about half of the total unemployment funds approved by the federal government, ended up being stolen by fraud.
Su explained to journalists just a few years ago that “there is no sugarcoating the reality” of the rampant fraud that took place within the Golden State, as explained in a report from the Los Angeles times. “California has not had sufficient security measures in place to prevent this level of fraud, and criminals took advantage of the situation,” she went on.
Su has attempted to blame officials from the Trump administration for purportedly neglecting to offer the necessary guidance regarding distributing the resources. “It should be no surprise that EDD was overwhelmed, just like the rest of the nation’s unemployment agencies,” she concluded. “And we now know that as millions of Californians applied for help, international and national criminal rings were at work behind the scenes working relentlessly to steal unemployment benefits using sophisticated methods of identity theft.”