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California’s EDD director out about years after being appointed

Rita Saenz, who was hired to head the department where millions of Californians were dependent on unemployment assistance due to adversity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, has left EDD. An internal memo obtained by KCRA 3 confirmed that she would resign and that Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Nancy Farias, who is currently Deputy Director of External Affairs of the Employment Development Department, to replace Saenz. Farias will be sworn in on Tuesday. "This year has been an eventful year after an equally eventful year before. During this time I have had the privilege of working with you, a brilliant and dedicated staff. It has been such a pleasure," Saenz wrote in the note. . "I have great respect for the hard work, flexibility and courage you have shown. I hope I have shown you my appreciation for the hard work and the difficulties we have encountered together. I joined you with the knowledge, that my time at EDD would be limited. And now it's time for me to hand over the reins to the department. "The governor appointed Saenz in December 2020, expecting to help turn around EDD, which was then overwhelmed with a record number of unemployment applications, as well as an unprecedented amount of fraudulent claims. She took office the following January. Her appointment came after former EDD director Sharon Hilliard announced her retirement from the combat department in October 2020. "With more than 40 years of experience in state government and the private sector, Rita Saenz is doing well. -Prepared to lead EDD in what is sure to be one of the most difficult moments in the department's history, "Newsom said in late December, announcing Saenz's appointment. reforms in the department to better serve working Californians, prevent fraud and hold bad actors accountable. "Assm. Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, said in a statement that he is not surprised by Saenz's departure." to do is actually to harm people. "Assm. Jim Cooper, R-Elk Grove, told KCRA 3 that he believes Saenz did what she could over the past year, given the general state of EDD on the time she took over. " She did some work, but there is still so much more to do, "Cooper said. Cooper said Saenz was often unable to answer lawmakers' questions about the backlog of claims and the extent of the fraud problems." Even in some of the hearings we had, they will come back to you, "Cooper said." They did not have the answer, the right people in place with it. So it's a big bureaucracy at EDD. "Cooper said after decades of inside scrutiny, a different perspective is needed. He's not entirely sure Nancy Farias will be able to make major changes within the department." If you look on the results for EDD, it has always been insiders. So now you add another insider to the mix. What real change will happen. be? "said Cooper." It has to be someone from the outside with a fresh look to get in there and have the authority to make those changes. "But the former EDD director Michael Bernick, who held the position at the beginning of 2000s, said there is no substitute for experience. "People always talk about fresh faces and new faces. There is a lot to say in the state government for someone with experience, "Bernick said." Even though Saenz is leaving EDD, she will continue to work for the state as a commissioner in the area. California Commission on Aging. , who have lost their jobs or are struggling to keep up with the many chain effects that COVID-19 has caused financially, the massive fraud allegations that EDD has handled have certainly not helped.So far, EDD has paid out more than $ 20 billion in fraudulent claims with few or no consequences - and that number is expected to rise.California became the magnet for fraud with criminal rings and even prisoners charging fraudulent unemployment payments from across the state and across the country.Even newly started criminals bought tutorials on how to apply for and get easy money.All this happened while California's unemployed workforce struggled to get their legitimate claims.KCRA 3 told this story about it worst taxpayer fraud in U.S. history after a 22-month investigation. Our team traveled across California and conducted interviews in other states to get an idea of ​​how far-reaching and how outrageous the abuse of the state's unemployment system is. Watch our EDD documentary Easy Money: Fraud, Fortune and Failures. Recently, EDD said it has been exposed to disability fraud. It said it halted payments for 345,000 disability claims associated with 27,000 suspicious donors, and 98% of the claims were likely fraudulent.

Rita Saenz, who was hired to head the department where millions of Californians were dependent on unemployment benefits due to adversity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, has left EDD.

An internal memo obtained by KCRA 3 confirmed that she will resign and that Govin Newsom has appointed Nancy Farias, who is currently the Deputy Director of External Affairs of the Employment Development Department, to replace Saenz. Farias will be sworn in on Tuesday.

"This year has been an eventful year after an equally eventful year before. During this time I have had the privilege of working with you, a brilliant and dedicated staff. It has been such a pleasure," Saenz wrote in the note. . "I have great respect for the hard work, flexibility and courage you have shown. I hope I have shown you my appreciation for the hard work and the difficulties we have encountered together. I joined you with the knowledge, that my time at EDD would be limited. And now it's time for me to hand over the reins to the department. "

The governor appointed Saenz in December 2020 with the expectation of helping turn around EDD, which was then overwhelmed with a record number of unemployment claims as well as an unprecedented amount of fraudulent claims. She took office the following January.

Her appointment came after former EDD director Sharon Hilliard announced her retirement from the combat department in October 2020.

"With more than 40 years of experience in state government and the private sector, Rita Saenz is well prepared to lead EDD on what will surely be one of the most difficult moments in the department's history," Newsom said in late December as he announced Saenz's appointment.

In a statement released Friday by the governor's office, Newsom said Saenz "spearheaded important reforms in the department to better serve working Californians, prevent fraud, and hold bad actors accountable."

Assm. Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, said in a statement that he is not surprised by Saenz's departure.

"EDD has tried so hard to downplay their recent failure to prevent fraud within their disability programs. Their 'nothing to see here' excuses are actually hurting people."

Assm. Jim Cooper, R-Elk Grove, told KCRA 3 that he believes Saenz did what she could over the past year, given the general state of EDD at the time she took over.

"She did some work, but there's still so much more to do," Cooper said.

Cooper said Saenz was often unable to answer lawmakers' questions about the backlog of claims and the extent of the fraud problems.

"Even in some of the hearings we had, they will come back to you," Cooper said. "They did not have the answer, the right people in place with it. So it's a big bureaucracy at EDD."

Cooper said that after decades of internal control, a different perspective is needed. He's not entirely sure Nancy Farias will be able to make major changes within the department.

"If you look at the track record for EDD, it's always been insiders. So now you're adding another insider to the mix. What real change will there be?" said Cooper. "It has to be an outsider with a fresh look to get in there and have the authority to make those changes."

But former EDD director Michael Bernick, who held the position in the early 2000s, said there is no substitute for experience.

"People always talk about fresh faces and new faces. There's a lot to say in the state government for someone who has experience," Bernick said.

Even though Saenz is leaving EDD, she will continue to work for the state as a commissioner for the California Commission on Aging.

While the pandemic has no doubt been difficult for many who have lost their jobs or are struggling to keep up with the many chain effects that COVID-19 has caused financially, the massive fraud allegations that EDD has handled have certainly not helped. So far, EDD has paid out more than $ 20 billion in fraudulent claims with few or no consequences - and that number is expected to rise.

California became the magnet for fraud with criminal rings and even prisoners charging fraudulent unemployment payments from across the state and across the country. Even start-up criminals bought tutorials on how to apply for and get easy money. All of this happened while California's unemployed workforce was struggling to get their legitimate claims.

KCRA 3 told this story about the worst taxpayer fraud in American history after a 22-month investigation. Our team traveled across California and conducted interviews in other states to get an idea of ​​how far-reaching and how outrageous the abuse of the state's unemployment system is.

Watch our EDD documentary Easy Money: Fraud, Fortune and Failures

Recently, EDD said it has been exposed to disability fraud. It said it halted payments for 345,000 disability claims associated with 27,000 suspicious donors, and 98% of the claims were likely fraudulent.

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