FGGAM NEWS just received this news release from the New Mexico GOP Senate:
Bombshell LFC Report Details Mismanagement of Unemployment Insurance at State Department of Workforce Solutions
“State has made $250 million in benefit overpayments since the start of the pandemic”
LAS CRUCES – The Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) today received a report from LFC staff detailing significant mismanagement of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits and claims at the New Mexico Departments of Workforce Solutions. According to the report, the department made an estimated $250 million in UI benefit overpayments during the pandemic. Further, inadequate oversight and a misinterpretation of local and federal laws led to inaccurate calculations of taxes and benefits.
“I understand that the COVID-19 pandemic placed an unprecedented burden on the department and its staff as unemployment claims surged to historic levels,” said Senator Crystal Diamond (District 35-Doña Ana, Hidalgo, Luna, and Sierra), a member of the Senate Finance Committee. “At the same time, we must address this massive mismanagement of taxpayer dollars and hold the responsible parties accountable. Overpayments, erroneous calculations, and widespread fraud have led to an insolvent unemployment insurance trust fund. If the fund is not replenished and if New Mexicans do not return to work, our local businesses will yet again be facing higher taxes.”
Following the Governor’s economic shutdown, New Mexico’s unemployment rate skyrocketed to 12.5 percent in July 2020, with 197,000 New Mexicans filing for UI benefits. The surge prompted the state to borrow $278 million from the federal government to pay claims and by waiving the work search requirement, LFC staff determined that the state “contributed to a disincentive for claimants to look for work.”
“This is yet another example of the executive creating a huge problem and the Legislature having to step in and fix it,” added Senator Diamond. “Based on the State Auditor’s report, we know there was poor oversight, inadequate training, and inaccurate interpretations of federal guidelines. The Governor is responsible for the actions of her departments and New Mexicans deserve to know what she is doing to ensure this never happens again.”
Other findings in the LFC report include:
· The large and growing backlog of uninvestigated claims may take more than a year to address at the department’s current pace.
· New Mexico’s recovery rate of overpayments fell to less than 20 percent in FFY20.
· Fraud rates have more than doubled since 2018.
· Identity theft associated with government benefits increased more than 500 percent from 2019 to 2020 in the state.
NM Governor Lujan Grisham Accused Of Using Campaign Funds For Personal Use
I get emails often from the Governor asking for money! Never give, but the emails keep coming!
A recent series of reports by the Piñon Post uncovered Governor Lujan Grisham’s misuse of campaign funds. NM Ethics Commission investigating Gov. Lujan Grisham for misusing campaign funds
From the New Mexico Republican Party: The Governor so far has paid her daughter, Erin Grisham, $6,083.88 since 2017 for “media preparation.” By her daughter’s admission via her LINKEDIN profile, she served as the “stylist and cosmetology consultant for Michelle Lujan Grisham for Governor Media.”
The use of campaign funds for personal reasons is against state statute, which clearly states, “Personal use of campaign funds is any use of funds in a campaign account to fulfill a commitment, obligation or expense of any candidate or legislator that would exist regardless of the candidate’s campaign or responsibilities as a legislator.” 184.108.40.206(B)(2) NMCA.
Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s own official 2020 Campaign Finance Guide further affirms that the Governor is violating the law. The Guide specifically says: “Hair, nail, or make-up expenses” are not permissible campaign expenses.
An example given by Toulouse Oliver of unpermitted expenses reads: “A candidate for the legislature would like to get her nails done prior to walking neighborhoods in her district to meet and greet. This is not a permissible expenditure of campaign funds.”
John Block, Piñon Post’s editor, has formally filed an ethics complaint with the State Ethics Commission on the matter. The Commission accepted the complaint, and RPNM is calling for a full investigation into this misuse of funds.
The Governor is misusing funds for personal items, and she has no excuse—her own daughter admits to the violation and the Secretary of State’s Office makes the rules crystal clear.