Julie Su, President Biden’s nominee for secretary of labor, is “a tested and experienced leader,” claims a February 28 statement from the White House. It contained no word about Su’s experience leading California’s Employment Development Department (EDD), which handles unemployment claims.
On Su’s watch the EDD sent more than $31 billion in unemployment claims to prison inmates in California, out of state, and even out of the country. Su confirmed that in 2020 alone, fraudsters stole at least $11.4 billion in California unemployment benefits. As it happens, fraud was not a new problem at EDD.
Related: Eric Garcetti and Julie Su are terrible picks by Joe Biden
California’s state auditor reported that “EDD had no comprehensive plan for how it would respond if California experienced a recession and UI [unemployment insurance] claims increased accordingly.” In the early days of the pandemic, Su suspended eligibility requirements for EDD claims.
After more than $11 billion in confirmed fraud, with the possibility of $20 million more, Su told reporters, “There is no sugar coating the reality, California did not have sufficient security measures in place to prevent this level of fraud.” Su did not explain her own responsibility for the failure, which came on a massive scale.
The state approved more than $140 million for at least 20,000 prisoners. Convicts who made fraudulent claims included convicted murderers Scott Peterson and Cary Stayner. Death-row inmates – murderers, rapists, and child molesters among them – accounted for at least 158 claims landing more than $420,000 in benefits.
Related: Julie Su is Joe Biden’s latest problem child
In some cases inmates used their real names while others used fake names and fake Social Security numbers. One inmate filed a claim under the name “poopy britches.” The criminals marveled at how easy it was to get paid. While this massive fraud went on unabated, legitimate claimants waited months to collect the benefits they deserved.
In addition to her mismanagement of EDD, Su served as California labor secretary and supported Assembly Bill 5, a frontal assault on independent workers that cost many Californians their jobs. The Biden administration overlooked these failures and made Julie Su deputy secretary of labor. Her nomination for the top job invites reflection on the administration’s record.
Related: Instead of tinkering with AB 5, just repeal it
Joe Biden’s nominee for comptroller of the currency in the U.S. Treasury Department was Saule Omarova. A native of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, Omarova attended Moscow State University on a Lenin scholarship. Omarova wants the Federal Reserve to control every American’s money, a centralization bid based on the Soviet model.
Omarova also wants to take economic and climate policy away from Congress and create an unaccountable bureaucracy called the National Investment Authority. Based on her record, Sen. Tim Scott could think of nobody “more poorly suited to be the Comptroller of the Currency” than the Moscow State alum.
Californians familiar with Su’s record could be forgiven for believing she is poorly suited to be the federal labor secretary. Joe Biden claims Su is a “tested and experienced leader,” but the nomination seems to have little to do with proven performance for the people and acceptance of responsibility for failure — which is what leadership is all about.
There is no sugarcoating reality. The Senate has plenty to ponder.
Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Oakland, California-based Independent Institute.