After wrongly accusing tens of thousands of people in Michigan of cheating on their unemployment benefits, the state is refunding $21 million to those Michiganders.
Attorney Jennifer Lord said that number is just “a drop in the bucket” of what the state has taken from those people, while Director of the Talent Investment Agency Wanda Stokes said the agency would do better in communicating with citizens and handling unemployment claims.
Amidst all of this, Zach Gorchow of Gongwer News Service has noted a conspicuous silence from one very important voice: Governor Rick Snyder.
A blog post Gorchow wrote compared Snyder’s reaction to the Flint water crisis to how he’s reacted to this unemployment fraud debacle.
“Once the Flint water crisis was well known and began to really explode, the governor was pretty out front on things – maybe slightly haltingly at first,” Gorchow said today on Stateside. “But once the report came down that it was really the Department of Environmental Quality’s fault … he went before editorial boards, he was holding news conferences and making himself available to, you know, get personally involved.”
To compare, Snyder has said "very little” about the unemployment fraud situation, Gorchow said.
Listen above to hear his full analysis of Snyder’s reaction.
Stateside reached out to Ari Adler, Governor Snyder's drector of communications, for a response to this story.
Adler responded via email with this statement:
What happened at the Unemployment Insurance Agency with the processing of potentially fraudulent claims was a breakdown in state government that needed to be addressed and it has been. Nearly the entire top-management structure at the agency and the department overseeing it have been changed and the systems used for the processing of unemployment claims has been reviewed top-to-bottom to find and fix problems. We are continuing to work within state government and with affected individuals to address any ongoing concerns. The fact that we don’t make a public statement to the press every time we take action on an issue may be important to the media, but the public simply wants government to work efficiently, effectively and with accountability. That’s where Gov. Snyder has put his energy on this matter and will continue to do so.