By Anne McCloy

New York State’s unemployment debt is now the subject of an inquiry from the House Oversight Committee in Washington and a New York Congresswoman is pointing fingers.

A letter sent to New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon on Friday says the committee is “investigating the State of New York’s Unemployment Insurance system after billions of dollars in improper and fraudulent payments.”

In the letter, House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. James Comer (R-KY) requests a list of documents from the NYSDOL to aid in its investigation, and questions why the NYSDOL “could not explain to auditors why the estimated number of frauds for traditional unemployment insurance claims more than tripled during the pandemic.” The letter cites the recent audit performed by New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli that found more than 11 billion dollars was likely stolen from the state’s unemployment during the pandemic, which the state is now charging businesses for in the form of a surcharge.

The new letter from the committee follows another letter sent to Comptroller DiNapoli in December from four members of Congress including North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R- NY) accusing the comptroller of holding the audit report until after the November election to limit damage to Governor Hochul’s gubernatorial campaign.

CBS 6’s Anne McCloy asked DiNapoli about the questionable timing of the audit’s release in November.

DiNapoli: I think folks know pretty well I’m not too susceptible to pressure in my own nice way, but I think the audit deserves a full and fair hearing and I think had it come out two days before Election Day I don’t think anyone would have paid attention to it.

Stefanik releasing a statement Monday writing in part, “New York continues to blatantly mismanage taxpayer funds, but the Hochul administration held up the release of over $11 billion in Unemployment Insurance fraud until after the election. This is an abuse of taxpayer trust.”

We have reached out to NYSDOL and Governor Hochul’s office for a response on all of this.

Read the full article here.