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Buck stops with Gov. Newsom for problems at EDD, Republican lawmakers say

Questions and accusations about EDD’s mishandling of claims and fraud protection continue after two critical audit reports came out this week.

In the nine months since the coronavirus pandemic began, several people have reached out to ABC10 about their frustrations with California’s Employment Development Department (EDD). 

One of those people is Kimberly Perette of Crockett, whose card was frozen for several weeks at the end of December. Her issue was recently resolved, but at the time, one of her frustrations was not knowing why it happened or when her troubles would end.

“I mean, Gov. Newsom, I haven't heard him say anything about this. I would love it if he would say something to us, and say, 'Hey, we were trying to get this as fast as possible,'" Perette said.

ABC 10 reached out to Newsom’s office seven times this month regarding who is accountable for the mishaps at EDD. His office did not respond to multiple requests, and this week sent out a statement blaming the Trump administration.

On  Friday, ABC10 against reached out to Newsom's office, to which his communications director released the following statement:

"The Governor acted decisively in August to put the Strike Team in place to improve the department’s ability to get payments to legitimate claims out, created a law enforcement task force to root out fraud and hold people accountable, added staff resources, and changed leadership at EDD. However, there is more work to be done."

Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove said Newsom is to blame for EDD's shortcomings because the agency falls under the executive branch.

“The governor, when we pushed on him very hard, he finally put together a task force, then said all of this would be cleaned up by January of 2021. Well it’s Jan. 29 and there’s still 900-plus-thousand Californians that don’t have their benefits and fraud is still taking place,” Grove said.  

In a state that is run mostly by Democrats, Assemblymember Jim Patterson, a Republican, said that holding Newsom accountable will be a challenge.

“I just think that the oversight responsibility of the governor, the attorney general, and the legislature is compromised because of political slowness. We have a one-party ruled Senate and Assembly. And we've got to get the permission of those leaders to actually do the oversight duty of the accountability committee,” Patterson said.  

Assemblymember Phil Ting wouldn’t point fingers and said there are bigger questions to answer at the moment

“It's not really important who gets blames for what. This isn’t the “Blame Olympics”, Ting said.

Read more from ABC10

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