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Heads Are Going To Roll; Oversight Panel To Subpoena Ex UIA Director

April 19, 2022

Members of a joint House and Senate Oversight committee announced Wednesday they would be issuing subpoenas to have former Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) Director Steve Gray appear to answer questions about a highly critical audit of the beleaguered state agency.

Rep. Steven Johnson (R-Wayland Twp.), chair of the House Oversight Committee, said they would be asking Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to remove a “gag order” that was placed on Gray after he left the agency. Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah Twp.) said the subpoenas would be ready by the time the panel met again.

“Heads are going to roll,” Rep. Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann) said. “Somebody needs to pay for this. Somebody needs to be held accountable.”

Johnson said Gray was allowed to slip out the back door with his $85,872 severance agreement and would need to come before the committee to answer questions that UIA Director Julia Dalecouldn’t.

The joint committee met with Dale Wednesday to talk about an Office of the Auditor General report showing major problems where the agency hired embezzlers and known felons.

“It is difficult to hear that the agency I just became the director of, unnecessarily exposed itself to internal attacks,” Dale said.

She said she just signed something Tuesday that the UIA will be requiring criminal history checks on all employees, contractors, subcontractors and anyone who can access confidential information. Anyone who has been charged or convicted of any crime of financial fraud, retail fraud, embezzlement or theft will have to self-disclose that within 48 hours of being charged.

She said the agency will also be doing fingerprint checks.

“This is something we wanted to share here, but I also need to share it and circulate with staff, so this will unfortunately be news to them today, which is not my best laid plan, but I wanted you to understand,” Dale said to the committee.

Dale said some of the other issues that were brought up in the audit could be explained by a staffing purge that happened before Whitmer took office and the pandemic hit.

She said others were due to the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Franky I can’t wrap my head around it. The world changed in an instant and everything went backwards.” Dale said. “To say the work ahead of me has grown by leaps and bounds would be an understatement.”

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