Pinocchio Pritzker Strikes Again: Despite Promises, Pritzker Administration Failed to Follow Federal Recommendations to Stop Unemployment Fraud

Pinocchio Pritzker Strikes Again: Despite Promises, Pritzker Administration Failed to Follow Federal Recommendations to Stop Unemployment Fraud

The consequence of Pritzker and his administration’s failure to implement the fraud-fighting tools, may come at the cost of over a billion dollars in taxpayer dollars.

June 30, 2021

When fraudulent claims began to plague the unemployment system, Governor Pritzker assured Illinoisans saying “the state is cooperating fully with the federal government on the problem.” However, a new report from the Chicago Tribune points out that the Pritzker Administration “failed to follow federal recommendations to adopt free fraud-fighting tools that were made available in 2019.” The consequence of Pritzker and his administration’s failure to implement the fraud-fighting tools, may come at the cost of over a billion dollars in taxpayer dollars.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Records obtained by the Tribune show the flood of fraud happened after IDES failed to follow federal recommendations to adopt free fraud-fighting tools that were made available in 2019. Only recently did the agency begin using those tools. A separateprocess to help identify problematic claims also didn’t become fully functional until February, nearly a year into the pandemic…

While scrambling to field calls last year, IDES also didn’t take steps to meet federal anti-fraud guidelines.

In April 2020, the Department of Labor had “strongly” recommended to states that each start using all of the Integrity Data Hub’s fraud-prevention tools. The agency went a step further in August, telling states they were “on notice” that the failure to use such tools could violate a federal requirement to take appropriate steps to prevent, detect and recover improper payments.

By then, IDES had a new director: Richards, a career statehouse aide known for problem-solving. In mid-September, she told a state policy advisory board that the agency would begin using Integrity Data Hub tools once “our operations begin to recover.”

What has become increasingly clear is that Governor Pritzker and his administration failed to plan ahead and were slow to react and enact policies that would assist the hundreds of thousands of people who needed help with fraudulent unemployment claims. Instead, Governor Pritzker opted to mislead Illinoisans by downplaying the issues facing IDES, repeating tired talking points promising solutions, and shifting the blame for his failures on the federal government. And in return, Illinois taxpayers will be on the hook for more than a billion dollars – an exact amount is unknown due to the Pritzker Administration’s continued practice of shielding the truth from the public.

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