(Adrienne Ferguson, Headline USA) With his administration already under fire for mishandling billions of dollars worth of COVID relief funds, President Joe Biden on Tuesday tapped Julie Su to succeed Marty Walsh as Labor Secretary. Su oversaw massive pandemic relief fraud under her watch while serving as a top official in California.
Su served as the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency’s secretary before taking over as Walsh’s deputy secretary of labor in July 2021, reported the Daily Wire.
“It is my honor to nominate Julie Su to be our country’s next Secretary of Labor,” Biden said in a statement. “Over several decades, Julie has led the largest state labor department in the nation, cracked down on wage theft, fought to protect trafficked workers, increased the minimum wage, created good-paying, high-quality jobs, and established and enforced workplace safety standards.”
If Su is confirmed by the Senate, she will become the first Asian American to serve in the Biden administration’s Cabinet, which has given itself huge kudos for being history’s most diverse, if not most effective.
Su previously faced scrutiny for indirectly managing the California Employment Development Department, which handled $114 billion in pandemic relief claims, and found that 10% of those claims involved fraud. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, since an extra 17% of the benefit payments were made to accounts that were frozen during an investigation, the total amount of fraud may have exceeded $31 billion.
According to a report from the Government Accountability Office, fraudsters may have actually stolen up to $60 billion from the various federal unemployment programs established by stimulus legislation passed during the lockdown period. According to other estimates, fraud eventually cost the federal government $400 billion, or 50%, of the unemployment benefits that were authorized.
Su’s appointment would take place as some lawmakers demand answers over the widespread abuses of COVID stimulus money. Over the past two years, House Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee have repeatedly asked for hearings to look into the fraud; Democrats have routinely denied the requests, the lawmakers claim.
“There is no sugarcoating the reality. California has not had sufficient security measures in place to prevent this level of fraud, and criminals took advantage of the situation,” Su told the Los Angeles Times.