PEKIN, Ill. (WMBD) — A local lawmaker is calling for hearings Friday, on the mismanagement of billions in funding by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).

According to an Illinois General Assembly press release, State Rep. Mark Luft (R-Pekin) is calling for hearings after an audit showed that the IDES paid out nearly $2 billion in fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims.

“When an agency, any agency, loses nearly $2 billion to fraud, the General Assembly has to step in and get to the root of what happened,” Luft said. “I’m calling for immediate hearings into the gross mismanagement of these funds at IDES.”

The money was part of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (PUA), which was created to help those not covered by unemployment insurance, like gig workers and those who are self-employed.

The audit showed that out of the $3.6 billion in PUA funds paid out between July 2020 and June 2021, nearly $1.9 billion was tied to fraud.

“It’s clear that this audit is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to putting a dollar amount on the mismanagement at IDES,” Luft said. “We need hearings to see the full scope of the problem, which could easily total billions more.”

More information on IDES is available on its website.