Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, a possible Republican challenger to Governor Tony Evers in 2022, pulled no punches in an op-ed criticizing the governor for avoiding taking responsibility for his administration’s failures.
“When addressing the scandal at the unemployment insurance system, the governor wasted no time blaming Republicans and ducking any responsibility for himself,” Kleefisch wrote in an op-ed for Wisconsin Right Now. “With Tony Evers, the theme seems to be that the buck always stops somewhere else.”
The criticism was timed with the special legislative session called by Evers to address modernizing the state’s unemployment compensation computer systems which he blamed for the huge backlog in unemployment claims.
Legislative Republicans, however, have challenged that narrative claiming Evers already had the resources to address the problem for nearly a year and did nothing.
Kleefisch criticized Evers for not coming up with a plan to address the backlog problem at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Tony Evers and his government shuttered Wisconsin businesses with one-size-fits-all lock downs, but failed to have any plan in place to handle the huge influx of new unemployment cases that would obviously result,” Kleefisch wrote. “We know that Tony Evers’ team only answered 1% of the calls that came in seeking information and assistance. At the height of the backlog, over 100,000 Wisconsinites were left waiting for benefits.”
Accusing Evers of using the unemployed as pawns in a “political chess match in Madison,” Kleefisch said Evers shouldn’t wait to correct the problems with unemployment compensation.
“Instead of trying to score cheap political points against the Legislature, or potentially kick an actual solution down the road through the state budget process, Evers should own up, lead, and fix it with existing sufficient authority,” Kleefisch wrote. “But I’m not holding my breath.”