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Press Release Published:Jun 17, 2021

Comer, Issa, Palmer Call for Hearing on Massive Pandemic Unemployment Fraud

Members previously sounded the alarm on California’s rampant unemployment fraud

WASHINGTON—House Oversight and Reform Committee Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) today joined Representatives Darrell Issa(R-Calif.) and Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) in calling on Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) to expeditiously schedule a hearing on hundreds of billions of stolen pandemic unemployment benefits. Press reported unemployment fraud could reach more than $400 billion, with as much as half of the funds going to international criminal organizations. 

“Hundreds of billions of American dollars went into the pockets of foreign criminals seeking to harm the U.S.—that’s on top of the money California already sent to murderers and people on death row. This gross mismanagement of taxpayer dollars is ripe for congressional oversight, but Democrats are doing nothing. We warned Chairwoman Maloney in February that there was an urgent need to hold a hearing on rampant unemployment fraud, but it fell on deaf ears. Overseeing proper stewardship of taxpayer dollars is a core function of the Oversight Committee and it’s time for Chairwoman Maloney to schedule a hearing on this pressing issue,”said Ranking Member James Comer.

“The egregious mismanagement of unemployment assistance is a twin betrayal of hardworking taxpayers that provide the funding and our fellow citizens who need and deserve these benefits. Despite repeated warnings of fraud and outright theft by Republicans, this Administration has refused to take any action, and it’s an arrogant indifference with no end in sight. Enough is enough. We need answers, accountability and immediate reform,” said Congressman Darrell Issa.

“As much as $400 billion may have been lost to fraud by way of falsified claims for COVID-related unemployment benefits. Identity theft has become rampant and foreign crime rings have stolen hundreds of billions of dollars. This is one of the greatest thefts of American tax dollars in history, totaling more than the entire 2021 budgets of the Army and Navy combined, and more than the combined budgets of eight American states. Republicans have been sounding the alarm on this for months. However, requests for a joint hearing on rampant fraud in pandemic-era programs have been ignored by the Democrat majority. The failure of the Democrats to include safeguards in response to fraudulent claims has opened the door for fraud and has contributed to enormous losses in state unemployment programs. It’s beyond time for Congress to exercise more oversight of these benefit processes to ensure that Americans are never again the victims of fraud on this unacceptable scale,” said Congressman Gary Palmer. 

In February, the Republicans called on Maloney to investigate unemployment fraud in California after it was unearthed that the California Employment Development Department sent fraudulent unemployment benefits to murderers, people on death row, deceased individuals, and organized crime members in China and Russia.

The full letter is available here.