From: Sen.Wanggaard
Sent: Tuesday, June 16, 2020 2:26 PM
To: Sen.Nass <>; Reihl, Mark S – DWD <>
Cc: Frostman, Caleb – DWD <>; Williams, Danielle E – DWD <>; Keckhaver, John E – DWD <>; Mikalsen, Mike <>
Subject: RE: UI Division and Current Crisis – Resignation Requested

As Vice-Chair of the Labor and Regulatory Reform Committee, and without prior consultation with Senator Nass, I agree with Senator Nass 100%. The situation is unacceptable and I could not have written the thoughts in this email better myself.

I do not echo the call for your resignation lightly, as it is largely against my nature. But something needs to change.

Van Wanggaard

State Senator

21st District

From: Sen.Nass <>
Sent: Tuesday, June 16, 2020 1:11 PM
To: Reihl, Mark S – DWD <>
Cc: Frostman, Caleb – DWD <>; Williams, Danielle E – DWD <>; Keckhaver, John E – DWD <>; Mikalsen, Mike <>
Subject: UI Division and Current Crisis – Resignation Requested

As Chairman of the Senate Labor and Regulatory Reform Committee, I have had numerous conversations with constituents and my colleagues regarding the unacceptable circumstances surrounding the processing of unemployment insurance claims since March by the division you lead at DWD.  During my time in the legislature, I have dealt with several administrations of both parties through at least a half-dozen economic downturns and the resulting need for unemployment insurance benefits.  In each of these high demand periods for UI benefits there have been initial challenges for the department in gearing up to meet the increase in claims.

However, the current situation in processing UI claims is no longer about the number of claims or causes of the recession, it is in large part driven by an absolute lack of energy and administrative leadership within the UI Division at DWD.  As the Division Administrator, it is your responsibility to provide the direction and energy necessary to meet these challenges to serve the people of this state in great need of these benefits.  The unbelievable number of constituents that have been caught up in the bureaucratic nightmare within the UI program is terrifying and no longer acceptable to any reasonable person.

Per data released yesterday by your department, there are still at least 151,000 claimants awaiting determinations on a staggering 486,000 weekly claims.  The backlog has changed little in recent weeks despite promises from Governor Evers, Secretary Frostman and you that the situation would be addressed.  The problem is not the inherent fact that you will eventually have to resolve all these claims; that is the law.  The problem is the complete lack of urgency to get these people either their benefits or denial determinations so they can commence the appeals process, if applicable.

On May 27, 2020, Secretary Frostman and you testified to my committee regarding the crisis and the agency’s timeline for resolving the backlogs in the process;  sometime between August and October.   At that hearing you were told in no uncertain terms that the August to October timeline was unacceptable to the public and members of the Legislature.  At one point in the oversight hearing, I directly admonished your statements that exemplified a clear lack of urgency and realistic understanding of the plight being faced by citizens as a result of Covid-19 and the illegal shutdown orders issued by Governor Evers.

Unfortunately, I have seen nothing from you since May 27th that indicates a real change in direction for the UI division or in clearing the backlogs in a faster manner.  Based on your performance and statements to the committee, it is clear that you either lack the ability or the desire to properly resolve the malaise that negatively impacts the UI division’s service to citizens at this time.  I am requesting your resignation as UI Division Administrator and will demand that Secretary Frostman seek your dismissal if you opt to remain in your position.

Steve Nass


11th State Senate District

(608) 266-2635

Print Friendly, PDF & Email