Recap with Rosenthal


Audit finds Illinois paid out $5.2 billion in fraudulent or excessive unemployment “overpayments” during COVID-19. An audit report released this week by the Illinois Auditor General revealed that the State of Illinois paid out more than $5.2 billion in fraudulent or excessive unemployment claims during the COVID-19 pandemic, including $46 million in payments to incarcerated or deceased persons.

The Illinois Auditor General on Wednesday published a report that showed how the state agency that distributes unemployment benefits issued “overpayments” to the tune of $5.2 billion in fraudulent or excessive claims from fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2022. The report is the fullest accounting yet of the large-scale fraud and overpayments that occurred in Illinois during the pandemic.

Of the $5.2 billion, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) overpaid by about $2 billion for regular unemployment insurance and by $3.2 billion for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) put in place following the outbreak of COVID.

Overall, $2.8 billion has been classified as identity theft – money not considered recoverable since it can’t be collected from the identity theft victim. According to the audit, only about a 10th of the total $5.2 billion has been recovered.

Unemployment surged in Illinois, as it did in the rest of the country, at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 after Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued stay-at-home orders in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Businesses were forced to cut back their operations, if not shut down, leaving many Illinois residents out of work and creating an unprecedented level of demand for unemployment insurance.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shutdown, Illinoisans struggled to make contact with anyone at IDES to assist them with legitimate unemployment claims. IDES offices were closed throughout the state, concerned citizens could not get anyone on the phone, and the IDES online claims process was a complete disaster. Hardworking families put on the unemployment line by Governor Pritzker’s shutdown had to wait months to even begin their unemployment claims.


Watchdog report indicates massive failure of maintenance in Illinois’ prison system. The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) operates 27 correctional facilities throughout the state. Ranging up to maximum security, these facilities house persons convicted of serious felony offenses.

WBEZ has obtained a copy of a report, heretofore not made public, in which a consultancy was asked to survey IDOC’s physical infrastructure and report to the Department’s top management. The report appears to indicate a crisis at three Illinois prison facilities, with serious challenges at many others. Mold, leaky roofs, sewage backups, and unsafe drinking water are among the reasons why IDOC senior personnel have been forced to juggle prisoners from facility to facility. In at least one recent incident, guards had to carry out the unplanned transfer of “dozens of prisoners” out of a ward in the Pontiac Correctional Center after the heat and hot water ceased to operate. The emergency operation was carried out on a cold February night.

The report indicates that the dire infrastructure conditions currently seen at the Department of Corrections were exacerbated by a decades-long pattern of physical underspending and deferred maintenance. The report indicates that up to $2.5 billion could soon be required to patch up the aging prison facilities discussed in the report.

Interns represent the next generation of Illinois leaders

This summer the Illinois House Republican Caucus welcomed more than 40 high school and college students from around the state to participate in Leader Tony McCombie’s paid internship program. 

Interns were assigned to legislative district offices and other divisions within the Office of the House Minority Leader where they gained valuable insight into the day-to day operations of legislative offices as well as the responsibilities of legislators and their support staff. The internship program was designed to expand participants’ skillsets and to introduce them to all aspects of work conducted by the Leader’s staff, from policy creation to constituent services. In addition to the work in their assigned offices, each week interns participated in a robust and informative series of virtual educational seminars to familiarize them with different divisions and opportunities within the Office of the Minority Leader awaiting them when they complete their education. From communications and research to human resources and information technology, interns were made aware of the various aspects of working for a legislative caucus. 

Students are a valuable part of our team each year. In fact, numerous permanent staff members within the Office of the House Minority Leader began their careers as an intern with a State Representative/State Senator or a legislative caucus. The energy, enthusiasm, and youth perspective brought by our interns has made a positive impact across the state this summer; from Chicago to the suburbs to each of Illinois’ vibrant Downstate communities. As House Minority Leader Tony McCombie often points out, House Republicans represent residents of ALL 102 Illinois counties.  Our success is a team effort, one that welcomes and encourages the contributions of young people from all walks of life throughout the State of Illinois. 

Our talented interns represent the next generation of Illinois leaders and the House Republican Caucus is committed to strengthening opportunity in our state so they – and all students – can achieve their personal and professional goals right here in the Land of Lincoln.

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