TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said Friday that both she and her husband had fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits filed in their names with the state.
The Democratic governor's disclosure to reporters came amid an increasingly intense focus by the Republican-controlled Legislature on bogus unemployment claims and ongoing criticism of the state Department of Labor's operations. The department has seen claims from jobless workers and bogus ones spike at times during the COVID-19 pandemic, including since late November.
The state shut down its unemployment system from Saturday afternoon until Tuesday morning to impose new security protocols to block fraudulent attempts to access the system. But some GOP lawmakers worry that the state doesn't have a good handle on how many bogus claims have been paid.
Kelly said both she and first gentleman Ted Daughety received Department of Labor notices "months ago" about obtaining unemployment benefits. The governor's office said the notices came in early fall and that Kelly quickly went to the department's website and reported the fraud.
Some Kansas residents have learned of fraudulent claims in their names when the department recently began mailing out notices that they owe income taxes on benefits they didn't receive. Kelly said she has not gotten that notice.
Lawmakers say they hear frequent complaints from people who can't get through to a special Department of Labor call center for fraud.
"I know there are still people who are having difficulty getting through, and I hear that and we're trying to do whatever we can on an individual basis to help them," Kelly told reporters Friday. "It's not like we're not working - we are."