Democratic Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer may have overseen the payment of some $1.5 billion in fraudulent claims of joblessness, according to an investigation from the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency. The investigation, conducted on behalf of the agency by Deloitte, found that fake claims may have been made to the tune of billions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The company interviewed 24 UIA and Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) personnel including executive leadership,” Fox 17 reported. “They reviewed documents, emails, charts, policies, and federal and state UI guidance.”
The report suggested that some $22.9 billion in unemployment claims were paid out from March 15, 2020, once lockdown orders began being put into place, up until October 23 of the same year. As a result of the excessive lockdown measures put in place by Governor Whitmer, which were eventually deemed unconstitutional, unemployment in the state increased from 3.6% to 24%.
According to the findings, states were warned back in May that there was a “well-organized Nigerian fraud ring exploiting the Pandemic to commit fraud against various UI programs.” States were encouraged to ramp up measures to ensure that only eligible American citizens accessed unemployment benefits during the pandemic, but according to Deloitte, there may have been “Internal fraud” from employees and contractors.
Instead of Nigerian fraudsters taking cash from the U.S. government, it could have been done by contractors and employees in the form of “kickbacks.”
Deloitte addressed the new report to Tricia Foster, the chief operating officer working for Governor Whitmer.
“On May 27, 2020, UIA estimated that $1.5 billion of higher-risk claims (claims that otherwise may have been detected by Fraud Manager) had potentially been paid prior to running through Fraud Manager,” the report said. “Additionally, UIA had identified multiple instances of potential internal fraud by UIA personnel and contractors using their access to UIA procedures and systems to fraudulently approve/disburse millions of dollars in federal and state UI claims to ineligible claimants in exchange for payments and kickbacks.”
Interestingly, the report found that some officials downplayed the very real possibility of fraud. UIA Director Steve Gray reportedly told UIA personnel during a call that “fraud prevention was not a high priority.”
Michigan state Rep. Matt Hall said to Fox 17 that no legislator ever said that the UIA’s actions “contributed to this widespread fraud.”
The question now is…will Governor Whitmer allow an audit to take place? Or will Democrats be averse to an audit in the same way they’re staunchly opposed to an audit of ballots from the November presidential election?