Seven Congressional Republicans representing California have signed on to a letter urging President Biden not to consider Julie Su, California’s former labor secretary during the coronavirus pandemic, for secretary of labor in his administration. 

The letter sent Friday came after current Labor Secretary Marty Walsh confirmed plans to leave his position next month. Su is deputy secretary of the department. 

The congress members led by Rep. Kevin Kiley, R-Calif., accused Su of overseeing “one of the largest cases of unemployment insurance fraud” during the pandemic and of implementing one of the “most destructive labor policies in decades” during her time as California’s labor secretary. 

The state’s Employment Development Department, which handles unemployment benefits and which Su oversaw during the pandemic, was overwhelmed with unemployment claims when the economy closed down and reportedly paid between $20 billion to $32 billion to fraudsters.

“There is no sugar-coating the reality, California did not have sufficient security measures in place to prevent this level of fraud,” Su admitted in 2021, according to KGO-TV, but argued in her confirmation hearings for deputy secretary of labor in 2021 that the fraud was part of a criminal conspiracy that went well beyond California. 

At the hearings, Republican Sen. Richard Burr said, “It is true that all states struggled, but California’s struggles swamp everyone. And none of their (other states’) secretaries of labor are here today seeking a promotion.”

Friday’s letter said the most “infuriating” part of the situation is it “could easily have been prevented had the state implemented proper fraud prevention systems.” 

It added, “While the state stood by twiddling its thumbs and $32 billion in fraudulent payments were being sent to individuals who did not qualify for the assistance, those who were eligible and truly needed the help did not receive payments in time for months on end.”

Around 5 million workers also had their claims delayed during the pandemic and 1 million had them incorrectly denied by the agency, the Sacramento Bee reported. 

The letter also criticized Su for her support of California’s AB5, a labor law that determines who is an employee and who is a contract worker for a company. 

The congress members called it a law “that makes it nearly impossible for independent contractors to work in the state of California due to impossible standards,” adding that it had cost tens of thousands of freelance and contract workers their livelihoods. 

In 2019, Su wrote on Twitter that AB5 is “about preserving labor standards that are key to quality jobs in California.”

The letter closed by saying that either of the criticisms should be an “automatic disqualifier” for her nomination, “but together these two situations scream ‘incompetence.’”  

The other congress members who signed the letter were Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Rep. Jay Obernolte, R-Calif., Rep. Young Kim, R-Calif., Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., and Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Calif. 

Su, however, does have support for the position from the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Asian and Pacific Islander Caucus.

“She is pre-eminently qualified,” Gregg Orton, national director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, told The Bee. “Her work as deputy secretary of labor gives her a really strong track record.”

*By Brie Stimson | Fox News*

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