Jason Rantz: Why is Biden rewarding scandal-plagued West Coast agency leaders with administration jobs?

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In the private sector, multibillion-dollar screwups normally earn you a pink slip and industry scorn. In President Joe Biden’s White House, they land you cushy jobs that put American workers at risk of losing economic support at the worst possible time. 

California and Washington’s most incompetent bureaucrats have been rewarded with posts in Biden’s Labor Department, despite leaving their state offices in shambles and citizens in a lurch.  

California Labor Secretary Julie Su has been nominated for deputy labor secretary despite an unemployment scandal that still has Californians reeling. Washington’s unemployment head, Suzi LeVine, somehow earned a spot with Biden despite handing over hundreds of millions of unemployment dollars to Nigerian scam artists. 


Things are so bad that in both states, unemployed residents are still waiting for benefits to be paid. 

California’s unemployment system has been mired in fraud. In January, millions of Californians were still waiting for unemployment checks, just so they can simply put food on the table. And while the state has cleared some of its backlog, the state just announced they will be late sending benefits to tens of thousands of taxpayers.  

Instead of unemployed taxpayers seeing benefits, Su’s Employment Development Department (EDD) sent payments to prisoners, toddlers and fraudsters living in Russia, China and Nigeria. Audits reveal at least $11 billion paid out in fraudulent claims and an additional $19 billion under investigation for fraud. Identities of taxpayers were stolen and millions of Californians were served with a tax bill to pay taxes on benefits the fraudsters received. 

Nonpartisan State Auditor Elaine Howle says EDD knowingly released payments to suspect recipients whose names and addresses could not be verified. One address was even connected to 1,700 unemployment claims. 

The first audit eviscerated EDD’s mismanagement and how it treated unemployed Californians. Their call center, when it answered calls from angry, confused and concerned taxpayers, only helped with 1% of the cases. For those lucky enough to get benefits paid, they’ll likely owe money back to the state. As EDD fired off payments, they sent back payments to those who didn’t qualify. Now, millions may owe those payments back. 

Why are Su and LeVine being rewarded for such objectively poor performances?  

A second audit notes the EDD was unprepared to deal with fraud prior to the COVID pandemic and even removed safeguards after the fraud was apparent. After instructing Bank of America to freeze unemployment accounts for claimants, an unsuccessful and rash move to stem some of the fraud, EDD management blamed the bank.  

The problems plaguing the EDD show no sign of subsiding, yet somehow Su finds herself about to be named to a deputy Labor secretary post in the Biden administration. The problems grew under her watch, and she’s getting rewarded for it? 

A scheduled hearing announcement for confirming Su seems imminent and Republicans are getting ready to highlight her incompetence. They should fight this nominee as hard as they can. American livelihoods count on it. 

Washington state was plagued with similar scandals – and it appears utter incompetence will be rewarded in this case too. 

Under the leadership of Commissioner Suzi LeVine, a Democrat party mega donor, Washington’s Employment Security Department (ESD) paid out roughly $600 million to Nigerian scam artists who took advantage of the state’s lax security. 

To release benefits to unemployed Washingtonians faster, the ESD waived the waiting period before verifying the identities of the claimants. Concurrently, the department’s fraud detection software wasn’t working for most of the year, so accounts that should have been flagged weren’t.  

Tens of thousands of Washingtonians waited upwards of five months before they received their first payments. To this day, some Washingtonians haven’t received their unemployment benefits. They called and emailed for assistance, but either couldn’t get through, hung up after hours on hold, or never received email responses. An ESD whistleblower told a local radio station that they were explicitly told not to help.  

When unemployed Washingtonians were informed of a new process to help ESD verify their identities, the system didn’t work, with claimants asked to repeatedly upload the same documents multiple times.  

What’s worse, LeVine and her office repeatedly stymied state auditor Pat McCarthy’s investigation into ESD failures. It forced McCarthy to offer a rare rebuke of a fellow Democrat for potential “management interference” into her audit. And just before the eventual release of McCarthy’s damning report, ESD revised their unemployment fraud estimates up by a staggering 41% to a total 122,000 cases.  

LeVine never accepted any blame and repeatedly earned praise (and defense) from Gov. Jay Inslee. 

Over objections from Washington’s GOP congressional caucus, LeVine took a job with the Biden administration as interim assistant secretary of the Employment and Training Administration in the Labor Department.  

A little over a week before her promotion was announced, one not subject to confirmation, the unemployment backlog database was taken down indefinitely for maintenance. What are they hiding? 

And before you blame COVID for the problems, in both states audits make it clear that significant problems existed before the coronavirus.  

These two instances of failing upward should worry all Americans workers. We need our Labor Department to be fully functioning. Neither Su nor LeVine could handle her own state’s systems. Now they’ll be involved with billion-dollar federal budgets impacting hundreds of millions of people? 

Why are Su and LeVine being rewarded for such objectively poor performances?  

Su is the labor activist that Biden needs. She has pushed for a higher minimum wage and progressive groups like the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) praised her for “deep familiarity with the systemic barriers” impacting immigrant and minority workers.  

But most important to the Biden administration, Su is Chinese American, and the president has promised his White House will “look like America.” 


Diversity concerns have already been raised about Biden’s pick of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for labor secretary – he’s White. Meanwhile, groups like the NILC pushed Su, reminding the president “you have pledged to make your Cabinet the most diverse in history.”  

But what explains LeVine’s ascension? She and her husband raised a lot of money for the party.  

After raising millions for Obama/Biden and other Democrats, LeVine was given an ambassadorship to Switzerland and Lichtenstein before landing in Washington to take on ESD. She didn’t give up on her fundraising prowess during the Biden campaign. She served as a deputy finance chair for the Democratic National Committee and her husband donated $100,000 to then-candidate Biden’s PAC.  


So much for draining the swamp.  

If Biden wants to maintain his contrived narrative that he stands up for the working class, it might help if he didn’t install underqualified staffers in positions that could further harm American workers at their most desperate time in need. 


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