Maryland Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson has a cell phone, A Miner Detail presumes.
“Hi, Secretary Robinson, this is Senator _______. Several constituents in my legislative district are calling our office daily, requesting help receiving unemployment benefits. Could you give me a call back at your earliest convenience at XXX-XXX-XXXX? Thank you.”
Maryland Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson‘s response:
The above scenario is a dramatization – but how far from the truth is it?
Tiffany Robinson has a phone, but she’s not returning phone calls
Several Maryland state lawmakers say they are inundated daily with phone calls and emails from angry and exasperated constituents, many of whom have been waiting for Tiffany Robinson’s Labor Department to approve and process their unemployment benefits.
One Baltimore Republican told A Miner Detail Tuesday on background that he called Tiffany Robinson “several times,” seeking help and relief on behalf of his unemployed constituents.
The lawmaker said his constituents’ unemployment benefits are still pending – even after six months.
Today, though, the Republican state House member said the labor secretary isn’t returning his phone calls.
“She won’t even return my phone calls any longer.”
“Our constituents need help. Them not receiving their unemployment benefits affects their mental health, their marriages; this is their livelihood. But she won’t’ return my phone calls.”
The state lawmaker said the Labor Department should be investigated.
A Prince George’s County lawmaker who spoke Monday to A Miner Detail said Tiffany Robinson and Gov. Larry Hogan (R) are “basically lying” to Marylanders about the unemployment backlog.
“She [Robinson] tells us that things will improve, things will get better next month. Some of my constituents have been waiting over a year for their benefits to be approved,” the lawmaker said.
“It’s not going to get any better until the Labor Department cleans house. They are lying to Marylanders, and it’s shameful.”
Asked whether the lawmaker attempted to contact Robinson for help resolving their constituents’ unemployment claims, “We don’t even bother any longer,” the lawmaker said.
“She’s in hiding. She won’t talk to us [state lawmakers], and she won’t talk to the people in my district struggling to survive and can’t pay their bills.”
Hogan’s 98% claim
“I don’t know where the Labor Department gets this 98% of Maryland’s unemployment claims have been processed. I must have the entire 2% in my district,” the Baltimore delegate pondered.
The 98% figure the Baltimore lawmaker referenced is a questionable percentage Hogan, his administration officials, and his PR flacks promulgate to measure Hogan’s Labor Department’s success in processing the thousands of outstanding unemployment claims.
In May, FOX45 News reporter Amy Simpson questioned Hogan about Maryland’s unemployment system, asking the governor if he’s “satisfied with the pace that unemployment claims are being processed right now.”
“I am,” Hogan told Simson. “I think it’s the best in the country.”
“98% of all of our claims — something like close to a million people have gotten their claims. It’s close to 98% of all cases,” Hogan continued.
“The remaining 20-something thousand, it’s unfortunate, but these are folks that can’t qualify, and they can’t be turned down because Maryland has a [sic] we’re one of three states in the whole country that doesn’t allow us to finish those claims. It requires about a year-long adjudication process.”
Simpson pushed back, telling Hogan that FOX45 News has heard from several people who applied for unemployment in the summer of 2020 and are still awaiting payment.
“You’re gonna continue to hear from those last 2 percent, probably for the next six months or 12 months – until somehow it goes through the legal process,” Hogan told Simpson.
“Is that enough?” asked Simpson.
“It’s just the way the system works,” said Hogan. “I tried to get the legislature to fix it, and they refused.”
A Miner Detail contacted Labor Department spokeswoman Fallon E. Pearre on Tuesday to provide evidence to support Gov. Hogan’s 98% claim.
Ryan Miner is the Editor of A Miner Detail, a leading Maryland politics blog, and multimedia news hub. In addition, he is the host of A Miner Detail Podcast.
News tips and feedback: Ryan@AMinerDetail.com.