Tim Jeffries Forced Resignation

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Today, Governor Doug Ducey fired Department of Economic Security Director Tim Jeffries. Jeffries was forced to resign after a series of controversies ranging from questionable mass firings of employees to a report that Jeffries bought alcohol for DES employees during a work-related trip. Governor Ducey appointed Henry Darvin, his Chief of Operations, as interim DES Director. Ben Giles from the Arizona Capitol Times will discuss the forced resignation of Tim Jeffries.

TED SIMONS: COMING UP NEXT ON "ARIZONA HORIZON," TIM JEFFRIES IS OUT AS DIRECTOR OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC SECURITY. WE'LL HAVE THE LATEST. AND PHOENIX MAYOR GREG STANTON JOINS US IN STUDIO TO TALK ABOUT BASEBALL STADIUMS AND SANCTUARY CITIES. THOSE STORIES NEXT, ON "ARIZONA HORIZON."
ANNOUNCER: "ARIZONA HORIZON" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE FRIENDS OF ARIZONA PBS, MEMBERS OF YOUR PBS STATION. THANK YOU.
TED SIMONS: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO "ARIZONA HORIZON," I'M TED SIMONS. GOVERNOR DOUG DUCEY TODAY FIRED DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC SECURITY DIRECTOR TIM JEFFERIES. JEFFRIES WAS FORCED TO RESIGN AFTER A SERIES OF CONTROVERSIES RANGING FROM QUESTIONABLE MASS FIRINGS OF EMPLOYEES TO A REPORT THAT JEFFRIES BOUGHT ALCOHOL FOR DES EMPLOYEES DURING A WORK-RELATED TRIP. FIVE OF JEFFRIES' TOP AIDS WERE ALSO LET GO TODAY. THE GOVERNOR APPOINTED HENRY DARWIN, HIS CHIEF OF OPERATIONS, AS INTERIM DES DIRECTOR. HERE NOW FOR THE LATEST ON ALL THIS IS BEN GILES FROM THE ARIZONA CAPITOL TIMES.
TED SIMONS: BEN, GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE. THANKS FOR JOINING US. WHO IS TIM JEFFRIES?
BEN GILES: TIM JEFFRIES HAS HEAD HEADED THE WELFARE AGENCY FOR ARIZONA, THE DEPARTMENT OF SECURITY. HE'S MADE A NAME FOR HEMS AT THAT TIME. IT STARTED WITH REPORTS LAST YEAR IN OCTOBER AND SEPTEMBER ABOUT HOW HE WAS FIRING BULLIES AND LIARS FROM THE AGENCY. THAT WAS THE FIRST INKLING WE GOT OF THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE HE WAS LETTING GO FROM THE AGENCY. THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC HAS DONE EXCELLENT REPORTING ON THIS. IT'S CLOSE TO 500 EMPLOYEES NOW THAT HE HAS LET GO.
TED SIMONS: I WANT TO GET TO THIS AND OTHER INDISCRETIONS. IN THE GRAND SCHEME OF THEY THINGS, WAS TODAY A SURPRISE?
BEN GILES: NOT AT ALL. WHEN THE FIRST REPORT CAME OUT WITH THE TYPE OF PEOPLE, THE REPUBLIC WAS REPORTING A TREND OF OLDER EMPLOYEES, MINORITY EMPLOYEES, WOMEN EMPLOYEES, MAYBE A LOT OF FOLKS VERY CLOSE TO HITTING THEIR PENSIONS, 20 YEARS WITH THE STATE. THERE WERE PATTERNS THAT WERE ALARMING TO THE GOVERNOR'S STAFF. THEY STRIPPED HIS ABILITY TO FIRE ANYONE ELSE A MONTH AGO, SO THE WRITING SEEMED TO BE ON THE WALL AT THAT POINT. WHY KEEP AN AGENCY DIRECTOR IN PLACE IF HE'S NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO FIRE PEOPLE FROM HIS OWN AGENCY.
TED SIMONS: THIS WAS A FRIEND OF THE GOVERNOR, CAME INTO THE OFFICE WITH NO GOVERNMENT MANAGEMENT, NO GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE AT ALL, RIGHT?
BEN GILES: NONE TO SPEAK OF. PLENTY OF BUSINESS EXPERIENCE, PLENTY OF EXPERIENCE IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR. THAT'S WHAT THE GOVERNOR WOULD HAVE SAID MAKES HIM ATTRACTIVE. HE BROUGHT HIM IN TO SHAKE THINGS UP. HE DIDN'T WANT HIM TO RUN DES LIKE A GOVERNMENT AGENCY BUT LIKE A BUSINESS. THAT MIGHT NOT HAVE WORKED OUT SO WELL.

TED SIMONS: INDEED. ESCORTED OUT OF THE OFFICE AFTER A SHORT MEETING WITH THE GOVERNOR'S TOP STAFF, NOT THE GOVERNOR HIMSELF, I THOUGHT WAS INTERESTING. WHAT WAS THE BOTTOM LINE, WHY WAS HE LET GO?
BEN GILES: YOU CAN'T FIRE THIS MANY PEOPLE WITHOUT A GOOD EXPLANATION FOR IT. THAT'S PART OF THE PROBLEM WITH SO MANY OF THE EMPLOYEES BEING AT WILL WHICH MEANS THEY DON'T HAVE RECOURSE. THEY ARE WORKING FOR THE GOVERNMENT. THE GOVERNMENT CAN FIRE THEM AS IT PLEASES. THAT'S SOMETHING JEFFRIES TOOK HOLD OF AND USED AND ABUSED TO LET SO MANY PEOPLE GO.
TED SIMONS: SO MANY PEOPLE AND MANY WITHOUT CAUSE. SOME WERE IN LIVE TO RECEIVE MERIT BONUSES CORRECT?
BEN GILES: THEY RECEIVED MERIT BONUS IN 2015 AND 2016. SO MANY HAD EXCELLENT PERFORMANCE RECORDS, NO DEMERITS. THEY WERE GOOD PEOPLE, THE KIND OF PEOPLE YOU WANT WORKING FOR AN AGENCY. MANY OF THEM WERE THERE 10 TO 15 YEARS. THEY LOVED THE WORK.
TED SIMONS: WHY WAS HE LETTING THEM GO? WAS IT AGE, ETHNICITY, THROWING A DART AT THE WALL AND YOUR NAME GOT HIT?
BEN GILES: IN SOME CASES THERE WERE RETALIATORY. THERE WAS ONE GENTLEMAN THAT SPOKE UP AND WAS FIRED WITHIN 20 MINUTES OF SENDING AN E-MAIL TO THE HEAD SPOKESMAN.
TED SIMONS: THE OFFICE PARTY WHERE YOU GO ON THE GOVERNOR'S PLANE AND WHOOP IT UP WITH DES EMPLOYEES. WHY? THEY AGREED TO HAVE EMPLOYEE PROTECTION REMOVED.
BEN GILES: JEFFRIES SAID IT WAS A GOODWILL GESTURE AS HE DESCRIBED IT. A PARTY HE PROMISED IF THEY WOULD GIVE UP THE JOB PROTECTIONS, WHICH CAME WITH A PAY BUMP OR BONUS. FLYING AND FORCING HIS STAFFERS TO COME WITH HIM ON THE FLIGHT TO CELEBRATE THE IDEA THAT YOU CAN NOW BE FIRED WITHOUT REASON, ESSENTIALLY, SEEMED TO BE LOST ON JEFFRIES.
TED SIMONS: PART OF THE PARTY WAS BUYING ALCOHOL, HE SAYS WAS AFTER WORK HOURS, THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR SAYS DIFFERENT OTHERS BEG TO DIFFER. HE ALSO CREATED A "DO NOT HIRE-LIST." WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT?
BEN GILES: HE WAS BLACKLISTING FORMER EMPLOYEES TRYING TO MAKE SURE SOME OF THOSE CLOSE TO GETTING THE 20 YEAR PENSION MIGHT HAVE WANTED TO GO BACK TO WORK FOR THE GOVERNMENT SOMEWHERE ELSE BECAUSE YOU STILL GET CREDIT FOR THE TIME YOU SPENT AT DES IF YOU WORK AT ANOTHER AGENCY AND GET TO THE 20 YEARS. BY BLACKLISTING THEM, HE PREVENTED THEM FROM HITTING THAT MARK TO GET THE PENSION THEY OTHERWISE WOULD HAVE RECEIVE.
TED SIMONS: LAST QUESTION HERE, ARE YOU SURPRISED IT TOOK THE GOVERNOR THIS LONG?
BEN GILES: NO, SIR NECESSARILY. A LOT OF FIRINGS WERE SO QUESTIONABLE THAT WE DON'T EXACTLY KNOW WHY SO MANY PEOPLE WERE FIRED. THERE IS A HOT LINE FOR EMPLOYEES LET GO THAT CAN CALL AND EAR THEIR GRIEVANCES. IN SOME CASES WE'LL NEVER KNOW WHY THEY WERE LET GO. IT PROBABLY TOOK A WHILE TO GET TO THIS. THE WRITING WAS ON THE WALL WHEN HIS ABILITY TO FIRE ANYONE WAS GIVEN UP AND THE SERVING OF ALCOHOL DURING OFFICE HOURS SEEMED TO SEAL THE DEAL.
TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT, THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.
BEN GILES: THANK YOU.

Ben Giles: Arizona Capitol Times

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