More Illinois elected officials get notice of fraudulent unemployment claims

More Illinois elected officials get notice of fraudulent unemployment claims

ILLINOIS (IRN) —- Unemployment claims declined in most states while initial benefit claims increased again in Illinois.


The numbers of fraudulent claims affecting elected officials also increased.


Unemployment continues to increase in Illinois, leading the nation in new filings. With 142,700 new filers last week, numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor released Thursday show Illinois was second only to California’s weekly claims.


The Land of Lincoln had 35,000 more filers than the week before. That eclipses the total number of unemployment filings across the country, which reported 21,000 fewer new filers than the week before.


State Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, said the state should have been preparing for increased unemployment issues for months if it was going to continue issuing COVID-19 restrictions, increasing unemployment. But, she said they didn’t and constituents have mounting problems with backlogs and fraud.


“Can’t get a call back from the governor’s office, can’t get a call back from the unemployment office, so fortunately we can always get a call back from the state police,” Flowers said. “So, even I got a card from unemployment. I had to call the state police. I couldn’t call the Illinois Department of [Employment] Security.”


U.S. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, was also sent notice of fraudulent benefits in his name. After trying to call IDES to no avail, he took to Twitter and subsequently had a debate with the state agency on the social media platform.


He said in an interview Thursday the issue still hasn’t been resolved, even after going back and forth with the state agency on Twitter.


“I’m still waiting on a phone call back just like thousands of Illinoisans,” Davis said. “I have yet to have a response.”


He suggested the governor “do what other governors are doing.”


“Take state employees in other agencies, train them to deal with this unemployment claim backlog and the fraudulent claim backlog and create somewhat of a surge,” Davis said.


While Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said the agency is hiring more people, he has blamed some of the issues on the program Congress created and said the federal government needs to correct it.


State Rep. Mike Murphy, R-Springfield, said problems continue to mount for his constituents, and he was frustrated to learn the state agency was on Twitter debating a congressman.


“People cannot get through to IDES but they will have time to respond to Twitter attacks so I wish they would answer the phone and take care of constituents rather than playing on Twitter,” Murphy said.


Separately, Flowers said whatever is happening with the state agency needs to be cleared up.


“This is not politics, this is not a game, this is peoples’ livelihood,” Flowers said. “This is the money that they worked for, that they paid into, and they’re deserving of and they deserving to be respected because they’re taxpayers. We work for them.”


“IDES and the Governor’s Office remain dedicated to supporting claimants and their families, as we continue working to strengthen the state’s economy,” Deputy Governor Dan Hynes said in a statement Thursday. “With critical federal programs set to expire after the week ending December 26th, IDES is working quickly to inform claimants about these impending changes.”


“The department and the Pritzker administration are advocating for continuity at the federal level to support claimants, as we work towards a full recovery from the pandemic’s economic impact on Illinois workers,” Hynes said.

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