A day after the release of a stinging report that found the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions overpaid $250 million in unemployment benefits, former Secretary Bill McCamley took to social media Thursday to explain his abrupt resignation last month.

“I left the position for no other reason than the safety of myself and my family,” McCamley wrote in a series of posts.

Threats by phone to the department “were pretty common” at the onset of the pandemic, but then the situation grew more serious.

“People would show up at the office and try to start fights with security guards,” he wrote, adding windows also were broken.

“The most tangible evidence of violence occurred with an actual terrorist incident: a fire bomb was used to destroy a state car in our Las Cruces office,” wrote McCamley, who included a photo of a burned car. “The explosion was so hot that it melted the engine block.”

In March, McCamley wrote, he received a call from a local office informing him a man was blaming him for his wife’s “unemployment issues” and was asking where McCamley lived and when he was at home.

“He had a history of instability and an intimate knowledge of automatic weapons,” McCamley wrote.

The following month, an unemployment claimant sent a letter to his home. While the letter wasn’t threatening, “it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that it was only a matter of time before my home address and other personal information was shared on social media and getting into the hands of people who do wish violence,” he wrote.

The Associated Press reported New Mexico State Police initiated an arson investigation in November in connection with a vehicle at a Workforce Solutions office in Las Cruces, though no arrests have been made. State police also patrolled the area around the Las Cruces offices in recent months in response to threats, the agency confirmed.

After considering the situation for a weekend, McCamley wrote that he informed the Governor’s Office of his decision to resign on a Monday.

“That was only strengthened when 5 days later a letter appeared at my mother’s address,” he wrote. “I have received threats before as a public official, but this time seems different.”

McCamley said multiple officials in similar positions have had to receive police protection. One official reported his parents were receiving “harassment at all hours” after their cellphone number had been shared.

“Furthermore, with the attempted kidnapping of Michigan Gov Whitmer, the Jan 6th insurrection, and recently with the AZ Secretary of State having to receive 24 hour police protection in the face of threats, it has become painfully obvious that at this time in history certain people are willing to express their anger in violent ways,” he wrote. “For me this reached a point where I firmly believe that if I stayed I would be putting my life and the lives of people I care about in jeopardy.”

He indicated he plans to leave the state, which was not easy, he wrote, because he’s invested his entire adult life in public service “to my friends and neighbors here.”

He also wrote that he’s “immensely proud of the work accomplished by the Department in the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression” and that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and her team “have been nothing but supportive, classy, and understanding.”

“I also understand the pain, frustration, and anger experienced by so many. And criticism of public officials is and should be a part of public discourse in a democracy,” he wrote.

“However, after all of this, I would also implore the media & public to think strongly about their tone as these issues of great importance are discussed,” he added. “The more we inflame issues the more situations like the ones above become common and acceptable. And they shouldn’t be.”

Meanwhile, Stacy Johnston, a spokeswoman for the Department of Workforce Solutions, said the agency disputed that it had overpaid $250 million in unemployment insurance benefits as reported to the Legislative Finance Committee on Wednesday. She said the figure is actually $105 million.

But Jon Courtney, deputy director of the Legislative Finance Committee, said legislative staffers based the $250 million number on the agency’s own data.

“We went over this with them, not only in an exit conference, but we gave them the report,” he said. “They had it for over a week. We asked them to check for any issues with accuracy of which they reported none at the exit conference or during the hearing [Wednesday], so we stand by that number.”

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

(16) comments

Cathryn Miller

Workforce Solutions sent me a debit card to collect unemployment, however I did not file for unemployment and have been retired for two years. I contacted them and they cancelled the card. I HAVE ASKED WHAT SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER WAS USED TO ASCERTAIN THE EXTENT OF THE IDENTITY THEFT THAT HAS OCCURRED. They do NOT reply. Workforce Solutions is a mess. There should be accountability. Not personal threats, but career consequences.

Chris Mechels

The Democrats are in a tricky situation. Reality has caught up with them, at WFS, DOH, Corrections, DPS, etc. The trick is how to admit the massive failures, without prosecuting those responsible, who are Democrats.

So we get claims of "the Perfect Storm", "once in a million", etc. Problem is, letting failure go by simply gets you, no surprise, more failures. That's where New Mexican government is at today. Destructive, incompetent, government by the Democrats with all the "watchdogs", also Democrats, unwilling to act; the AG, the Auditor, the SOS, etc.

We no longer prosecute Malfeasance, or collect on Performance Bonds, or allow the Grand Jury to prosecute. There is NO accountability, so disasters are common, and denied by the Democrats. Covid was NOT the "Perfect Storm", it was a "Perfect Incompetence" by the Democrats, who blindly heave money at the wall without oversight, and of course help themselves; as Egolf did, taking some $350k in CARES money because it was lying around. Egolf also went after those, like John Arthur Smith, who tried for accountability.

Hard to see where this ends, but it will be bad.

Angel Ortiz

Really classy Chris. A man has his life threatened and his family potentially in harms way and you spin this into a political discussion. Great job[thumbup]

Jim Klukkert

[thumbup]

William Nevins

Bill McCamley is a brave and sincere man. It is a shame upon New Mexico that he and his family have had to endure this harassment. He has handled the situation with dignity. All best wishes to him and his family for their future.

Dennis Romero

Posted with no edits or judgement:

“Due to a mix of fraud and human error, New Mexico may have overpaid unemployment benefits by $250 million amid an unprecedented spike in jobless claims during the pandemic, according to a new legislative report. The report found the reasons for the estimated overpayments included insufficient staffing and training levels at the Department of Workforce Solutions, along with a backlog of investigations into potentially fraudulent claims. Of the estimated $250 million in overpayments, LFC estimated $133 million was the result of fraud.”

-LFC Report

https://www.nmlegis.gov/handouts/ALFC%20051821%20Item%203%20Spotlight%20-%20Unemployment%20Insurance%20System.pdf

George Welland

[whistling] Very kind of you to refrain from making any judgements... hmmm; but I can't resist saying the obvious, i.e., the previous NMDWS Secretary spent the last year "whistling past the graveyard," as the saying goes, and he killed his own career at NMDWS (but I'm sure he'll land on his feet with a high paying public or private sector job... too bad most New Mexican workers can't expect the same).

Dennis Romero

I like Bill. I just wanted to point toward the report the article referenced, so people could read it for themselves. That simple.

Cathryn Miller

Thank you for posting the link. The incidence of fraud in government programs must be stopped now!

Miranda Viscoli

This is a deeply disturbing situation. My heart goes out to Bill and his family. I hope every threat is investigated. Bill thank you for your years of service. Including the man who threatened him with guns. This would be an opportunity for an ERPO to be issued so the guns can be removed.

Richard Reinders

When you let the lawless be lawless you get what you deserve, we use to be a country of law and order, let the cops do their job and keep the politicians out of it.

Jim Klukkert

Richard Reinders- the history of this country is troubled at best. The privilege of white men, is the disorder of injustice too often for too many.

I do understand that for white men like yourself and my father, you had the privilege of the opportunity to work hard, make a day's wages for an honest day's work, save a little and get invested in the American way of life.

You should understand that the very same privilege of opportunity has been historically and systematically denied many on the bankrupt biases against race, gender, religion, ethnic identity, sexual preference and so on.

When you speak of a country of law and order, we see laws enforcing disorder.

The cops have had many years to do their job. They blew it in Albuqueruque, which is why that department was placed under Federal Judicial Decree.

Obviously, the cops need more supervision from our elected representatives, not less.

Sort of like our Commander in Chief of our military is a somewhat elected representative.

If you are not happy with our elected representatives, work for other candidates.

A return to the days of "laws enforcing disorder?" Not going to happen.

George Welland

Blaming Someone Else Is A Childish Tactic (Or Not Very Classy)

I can understand former NMDWS Secretary McCamley fearing for his safety; but it's a risk public servants accept as part of the job, admittedly to varying degrees corresponding to one's position and pay; and Mr. McCamley was in government for many years and his last couple included a cabinet level salary.

I think a more mature approach would have been to accept the burdens and responsibilities of the job, but if the heat's too hot, then it's a good idea to get out of the kitchen, and in this case Mr. McCamley just wasn't qualified. In other words, don't send a child to do an adult's job! I can only hope the acting Secretary can pick up the pieces from the destruction the last one left behind... but that remains to be seen?

This may sound harsh, because I'm glad Mr. McCamley is well, but more that he's gone. I think many children and adults were fearful during the pandemic; and perhaps he was just too nice of a guy to be in the job he was in; but his reason for resigning sounds like his feelings were hurt, more than being physically at risk (never mind his department ruined many workers and employers lives simply by being so inept for so long); hence, I think it only fitting the former Secretary channeled Ron Burgundy, the epitome of an immature prima donna, by saying, "...Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and her team have been nothing but supportive, classy, and ....” Albeit, the governor's administration seemed just as inept as NMDWS at providing security for the cabinet secretary of the most important department (after NMDoH) in the state for over a year now!

In closing, Stay Classy Santa Fe!

Lupe Molina

Every single one of these threats should be fully investigated and prosecuted as the felonies they are. My faith that NM law enforcement will actually even begin to do that? 0.

Mike Johnson

Politicians are less and less respected and trusted in our world today, at all time lows in the US, any politicians. The public wants accountability and responsibility from them, as well as competence. And the public has been disappointed with most all of them lately. What will they do to regain the people's trust and respect? It will not be given to them freely as before just from being elected or appointed, they must earn it.

Lee Vigil

I hardly think firebombing cars and sending threatening letters to the family of an official's support as disappointment. This is criminal and cowardice.

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