LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The memo went out to all EDD employees who handle complaints from the public. They were told to never say to contact their local lawmaker.
CBSLA’s David Goldstein obtained a memo that went out electronically to everyone at EDD handling unemployment complaints. The subject: “Do not direct callers to contact their local legislators for UI or unemployment assistance”.
It goes on to say “claimants should never be advised by staff to contact their local lawmakers for assistance with their UI claim.”
“If they’re telling people don’t contact your legislator, that tells me they’re trying to keep this very close to the vest and they understand there’s a huge problem and they don’t want people to know about it,” said State Senator Melissa Melendez.
Goldstein previously exposed taxpayer dollars going out of state — even out of the country – with people filing fraudulent unemployment claims that experts estimate could be in the millions.
Melendez has also been hearing from constituents who received EDD letters addressed to their house with names of people who didn’t live there. People collecting benefits.
“The scamming part of this is large scale and not just a couple people game the system, seems like a professional type of effort,” she said.
EDD denies that the intent of the memo is to try to prevent lawmakers from hearing about complaints.
They say: “EDD is simply trying to prevent claimants from being routed around on claim issues”, adding, “We have always partnered with legislative members and staff to address claimant questions and concerns.”
But Melendez says it sounds like they’re trying to keep the information under wraps.
“I’m not surprised but I’m very disappointed to hear that EDD is now telling people don’t tell your legislators how badly we are messing this up and I have news for you EDD, we already know,” she said.
Melendez is calling for a full scale independent investigation of EDD, one that will not only look at problems but what’s needed to fix them.