Dori: Millions lost and no one has been fired? ESD is political cronyism at its worst

May 27, 2020, 2:08 PM | Updated: May 28, 2020, 10:28 am
unemployment, insurance rates, fraud...
(Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

I’ve heard the same tragic story from hundreds of listeners. They’ve lost their jobs because of a government shutdown of our society. And then, when they needed government the most to financially survive, they for weeks, and even months, have been unable to get through to the state unemployment hotline.

Dori: Gov. Inslee, it’s OK to admit you’ve been wrong

Has a state agency ever been more tragically misnamed than Washington’s “Employment Security Department” (ESD)? It provides neither employment nor security. The mismanagement of unemployment benefits is another damning indictment of Jay Inslee’s leadership “skills.”

The sending out of unemployment checks to citizens in our state is further delayed by the unimaginable scam that hit ESD. Nigerian fraudsters siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars to out-of-state banks using suspicious emails accounts. All this after ESD says it spent $44 million on software that should have caught such fraud.

Many listeners have asked me if this could have been an inside job. That question has certainly crossed my mind. But it will be months or years before an investigation determines such things.

But a very fair question to ask: Besides Jay Inslee, who was the person in charge as taxpayers got bilked out of hundreds of millions?

Her name is Suzi LeVine.

How did LeVine get her job? By being a democratic party fundraiser and insider.

According to her profile:

The U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Lichtenstein from May 2014 to January 2017 was Suzan LeVine, whose posting to Bern was a reward for her fundraising for President Barack Obama. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, between 2008 and 2012, LeVine donated $432,251 to Democratic candidates and organizations, gave $18,840 to Obama’s re-election campaign, and “bundled” at least $500,000 in donations from others. The New York Times reported in September 2012 that LeVine had raised at least $2.3 million for Obama’s campaigns since 2007.

So she was a huge donor to Obama, and Democratic candidates and organizations. That got her named ambassador to Switzerland and Lichtenstein. And from there, Jay Inslee decided she’d be the best person on the planet to run ESD. Once you have donated and bundled enough money for the Democratic Party, you apparently have a job for life.

Her technical expertise to oversee ESD? That same profile says she worked for Microsoft in the mid ’90s on MS-DOS and Windows 95. Apparently, the Nigerian scammers’ technology has evolved just a bit since then.

You mean the world to me

Will the person at the top of ESD be held responsible? Might she lose her job? Highly unlikely. Once you’re a big donor and insider in Washington politics, it’s like being a made guy in the mafia — you’re untouchable.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Dori: Millions lost and no one has been fired? ESD is political cronyism at its worst