Roy Cooper: The Grinch Who Stole Christmas from the Unemployed

December 22, 2020
For Immediate Release 

Raleigh, NC - Democrat Governor Roy Cooper’s mishandling of the unemployment system is well documented. Not only is North Carolina one of the slowest states to pay out unemployment benefits and notably wrongfully denied many who qualified for unemployment assistance, but Cooper’s bureaucracy also miscalculated payments and is holding the recipients responsible days before Christmas. Nine months into the pandemic, Cooper is playing the role of the Grinch and still does not care about the struggling families put out of work by his executive orders. 

Months after the payments were made, Cooper is demanding that families pay back unemployment benefits paid out in error due to no fault of their own, but rather the Cooper administration’s incompetence.  How were the out of work recipients supposed to know there was an error? Likely, most of the money has been long spent as Cooper’s shutdown has shuttered the North Carolina economy and made it impossible for many working-class North Carolinians to provide for their families. Sadly, right when struggling families need this the most to make special memories during the horrible year, Cooper is adding to their misery because of his administration’s incompetence.

“How many kids will be missing out on presents because Cooper’s administration is demanding that struggling families cover the cost of his administration’s mistakes?” said NCGOP Press Secretary Tim Wigginton. “Just like the Grinch who stole Christmas, Cooper is demanding struggling families pay substantial sums of money largely due to mistakes done by his administration, right before the holidays.”

Here are some of the key excerpts from the Charlotte Observer article reporting on the Cooper administration’s demand right before Christmas: 

“The state of North Carolina says tens of thousands of people who received unemployment benefits during the pandemic need to give at least some of the money back.”

“From April through September, the most recent data available, N.C. Division of Employment Security says it identified overpayments to 46,800 people totaling $61.5 million. Over 1.3 million people in North Carolina have received unemployment benefits during the pandemic.”

“North Carolina lawyers working on unemployment benefits cases say many overpayment charges have arisen out of confusion over eligibility requirements for different unemployment programs.”

“The state put him on a payment plan for $420 a month. But he doesn’t know how he’ll repay it. ‘I’m really just a guy who’s trying to get through the next day at any given moment,’ Brown told The N&O. He appealed immediately but more than three months later said he has yet to receive a hearing date. ‘If I call the phone number, I’ve never had it say anything but ‘this system is too busy, call back another time, goodbye, click,’ he said.”

“But the higher benefits amount, challenges of appealing, and massive job cuts that have left many with no income other than unemployment benefits make the impact of overpayment charges acute.”

“‘It’s so frustrating that the one thing they seem to do quickly assesses overpayments,’ said Lodwick. In some cases, the notifications don’t explain the reason for the charge, he added. ‘That is not acceptable on any level to my mind, even just as a matter of due process. Like how are you supposed to challenge this thing that you don’t have a basis for?’”

“Across the state, people like Brown are still waiting for an appeal date. Brown has a $420 payment due Saturday. But he won’t be able to pay it — he says he doesn’t even have enough money for groceries. Brown said he’s started to lose hope.”

Bottom Line: Cooper’s executive orders put hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians out of work, but he failed to adequately manage the Department of Employment Security to give basic assistance to those impacted by his shutdown orders. Now, Cooper is demanding that more than 46,000 struggling families pay for his administration's mistakes right before Christmas.