INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Lawmakers are responding to an I-Team 8 investigation, a case in which whistleblowers allege mismanagement and inefficiencies at the Department of Workforce Development.
We found many of the legislators who serve on the Unemployment Insurance Oversight Committee in the state senate chamber. They slipped out for a moment to talk to us about alleged DWD mismanagement uncovered in our I-Team 8 report.
"I was glad that somebody was finally doing some investigative journalism on this," said Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage.
Tallian referred to the e-mails from a DWD manager obtained by I-Team 8 that went to employees who deal with reports from the public about problems, errors and fraud in the system. The manager told employees to delete documents older than 150 days. "Remove from your inbox," the e-mail reads. "You do not need to do anything else with them."
( DWD's lawyer has since told us the documents were not actually deleted but instead marked "complete" and removed from their inboxes . Our sources tell us they believed that meant the documents were being deleted and not dealt with again.)
"That's like, oh, wow - the smoking gun," Tallian said.
It's a smoking gun that's also gotten the attention of Sen. Brent Waltz, R-Indianapolis.
"I think this is a very vital role that WISH-TV is playing, so I thank you for bringing this to our attention," Waltz said.
He said the matters raised in I-Team 8's reports merit further investigation.
When asked about his role on the Unemployment Oversight Committee, he said he didn't serve on the committee. He later admitted he'd been mistaken. He is indeed a member of the committee.
But in fairness to Waltz, it's no surprise he may have forgotten. The committee met only once all last year.
After that interview with Waltz, DWD spokesperson Valerie Kroeger appeared, accompanied another woman that Waltz told us was named Michelle and with DWD. The two met behind closed doors with Waltz and Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville. When they emerged, Boots defended the DWD, saying he believed they were doing a good job.
"As a member of the Oversight Committee, obviously we look at what they're doing, and if there's an issue, we'll deal with that," Boots said. When asked whether the committee could provide sufficient oversight by meeting once a year he replied: "It's worked so far in the past. I believe it's working."
I-Team 8 has made numerous requests to interview DWD Commissioner Mark Everson and have received no response.
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