To say the S.C. Employment Security Commission has been operating in an unorthodox manner is being charitable, to say the least.
However, you can only put so much lipstick on this pig.
According to an audit released by the Legislative Audit Council Tuesday, and first reported on in detail by The Nerve, the ESC paid more than $171 million in state unemployment benefits during the last three fiscal years to “employees who were terminated for misconduct, illegal acts or other offenses.”
If that weren’t enough, in 2008, the ESC “stopped referring claimants for criminal prosecution who had fraudulently obtained unemployment benefits.” Claimants defrauded the agency out of more than $7 million in Fiscal Year 2008-09 alone, the report says.
Not surprisingly, the agency, which manages the state’s unemployment insurance fund, is struggling. The state’s unemployment insurance fund is more than $700 million in debt to the feds, and climbing. Nearly a decade ago, by comparison, the fund had a surplus of more than $700 million.
Entertaining in a Keystone Cops-sort of way are the examples of people who lost their jobs for some pretty good reasons but collected unemployment anyway, according to the report. They include:
- “An employee made unauthorized charges on his company’s credit card, which included motel rooms, hardware and Internet dating charges. He was terminated by the company, but ESC still allowed him to collect $3,586 in unemployment benefits.”
- “An employee was discharged for absenteeism due to his incarceration. The commission allowed him to collect $5,868 in unemployment benefits.”
- “An employee made a job-related threat and alluded to a weapon in his car. Police found a loaded firearm in the employee’s car. He was terminated for cause, but still collected $2,440 in unemployment benefits.”