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Gov. Ron DeSantis

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Governor to Inspector General: Investigate the unemployment system

Nikki Fried also called for an IG inquest, but she blames the Governor for its failings.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has foreshadowed an investigation of the state’s faltering unemployment website for a week. Now it’s moving forward.

DeSantis, speaking to reporters in Tallahassee Monday, said he authorized Inspector General Melinda Miguel to commence an investigation into the CONNECT site.

The Governor said getting answers about the site’s myriad failures was “very important for people.”

“A lot of money went into this site,” and “people want an accounting,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis noted “programming issues from day one” with the site, before going into detail on the work done on the site during his administration.

Hours before the Governor announced his call for an IG investigation, a Cabinet official made the same call, and blamed DeSantis for “potential mismanagement of the CONNECT unemployment system.”

Nikki Fried, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, fired off a letter Monday, also to Miguel, demanding an investigation of the state’s failed unemployment insurance system.

Fried, who has feuded with DeSantis all year, suggested the Governor failed to act, and even now, isn’t doing enough.

“State auditors cited major, systematic problems with CONNECT in 2015, 2016, and 2019 reports. Governor DeSantis was briefed on these problems upon taking office. Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented requests for unemployment assistance, but has also exposed a failure to correct the problems,” Fried wrote.

Noting that DeSantis said CONNECT “was designed … basically to fail,” Fried said the Governor has not “acted with the urgency or transparency that the situation necessitates.”

DeSantis had already suggested some type of investigation into the failures of the system, which he and his administration have blamed on former Gov. Rick Scott.

“You go back four weeks and the system was in tatters, people couldn’t even get on. There’s going to be a whole investigation that’s going to need to be done on how the state of Florida could’ve paid $77 million for this thing however many years ago they did,” DeSantis said Friday in Jacksonville.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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