LANSING, Mich. – Michigan’s new director of the unemployment office was questioned by lawmakers on Thursday.
Lawmakers want to know how $8.5 billion was paid out to fraudulent claims during the COVID pandemic. The hearing became heated after a new controversial look at the books.
Julie Dale is the director of Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency. Lawmakers accused her of hiding and purposefully misconstruing staggering numbers from a recent outside audit.
The audit from the national firm Deloitte showed the agency had paid out $8.5 billion in fraudulent claims or overpayments.
According to the audit, since the start of the pandemic the state paid out between $2.7 and $2.8 billion in claims to identity thieves and another $5.7 billion to people who intentionally misprepresneted their employment status. Also included was nearly $4 billion the state made in overpayments, which the head of the UIA said were partly or mostly included in the overall total.
The UIA director did say nearly all of the money came from federal funds. Even though it was still doled out by the Michigan agency. She also said the expansion of who was allowed to apply for unemployment shifted at the start of the pandemic, which made for more confusion.