‘Immediate action’: Janet Cruz seeks Ken Lawson’s ouster as DEO head
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 4/9/19-Ken Lawson, acting executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity, is sworn in prior to testifying before the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, during confirmation hearings Tuesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. Lawson was approved by the committee and awaits a confirmation vote by the full Senate. Tuesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

Democrats fire away at failed unemployment claims system.

A prominent Democratic state Senator is the latest, but likely not the last, person to slam Florida’s broken unemployment claims system.

But she is the first to suggest removing the head of the agency responsible.

Tampa’s Janet Cruz on Friday wrote Gov. Ron DeSantis, describing a “disgraceful” system that was “designed to fail.”

And due to that failure, and a lack of a “plan” to resolve it, Cruz recommends the removal of Department of Economic Opportunity head Ken Lawson.

“I cannot in good conscience stand by the response provided by the Department to this economic crisis. It is with great disappointment and frustration that I request you ask Executive Director Ken Lawson to resign,” Cruz wrote.

“During this unprecedented crisis,” Cruz wrote, “we need leadership within every function of state government to protect the Florida we love. We need leadership with integrity and communication with intention. I am dismayed at the realization that Director Lawson is unable to fulfill those obligations as the leader of the Department of Economic Opportunity.”

Cruz noted that Lawson and staff bailed on a scheduled town hall with her this week, which seems to have been the last straw.

The unemployment claims system’s failings were laid bare by what the Governor called last month a “crush” of job claimants.

The Senator has been thwarted in attempts to get a “timeline from the DEO on the reemployment benefits web platform being fixed and the implementation of new federal enhanced benefits.”

“As a State Senator, I have an obligation to answer to my constituents with intention and integrity,” Cruz wrote. “I am unfortunately unable to do so because of a lack of preparedness within the Governor’s office, the office of the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), and further, a complete breakdown in communication from the leaders of our state to the Florida Legislature.”

Indeed, a proposed workaround seems to be paper applications and the importation of staffers from other areas of government, along with contract workers, to provide them.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Kelly Paige

    April 3, 2020 at 4:54 pm

    As a business owner of 18 years in Florida I can attest to the great job that Ken Lawson did for the DBPR.
    It was a mess and mainstreamed everything and made it one of the simplest sites in the state to use.

  • janette

    April 13, 2020 at 11:14 am

    Hi Floridians, I am a furloughed hotel worker who is just as frustrated as you are. I have started a call for current DEO head Ken Lawson to immediately resign from his position. Our politicians have failed us in Florida and it is so important that we the people are heard, many people are suffering please join my call follow link and sign my petition add comments or add your own petition. But Floridians please do not stay quiet speak up and share your experience, suggestion, and ideas with others Floridians who are going through this also. apparently he is not doing enough and Floridians need help. WE ARE HURTING PLEASE HELP US.


  • Bob

    April 18, 2020 at 8:22 am

    The resignation of Ken Lawson will not speed up a broken system. It is not a matter of someone not doing their job fast enough, it is the result of a system which has been broken for 10 years but no-one has been affected to the point where there was enough outcry to justify fixing it. If you replace Ken Lawson, the only result is you will demoralize staff and bring in a new set of politically appointed officials who know nothing about the unemployment system and will need to be briefed on the basics to get them up to speed. It will make things far worse. Ken Lawson is a good leader in a bad situation. Yes, he should have replaced CONNECT – but so should have Rick Scott and no-one is calling for him to resign from Senate.

Comments are closed.


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