Meet Tommy Ellis …

He’s a fraud investigator for the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW).  In fact he’s one of two deputy fraud investigators who works out of the agency’s Charleston, S.C. office.

Or at least he used to work out of the agency’s Charleston office … (more on that in a moment).

First, a quick primer.  For those of you unfamiliar with SCDEW, it is quite possibly the most incompetent agency in all of state government.  According to federal statistics, one out of every five dollars in unemployment benefits doled out by SCDEW is awarded erroneously – the eighth-highest percentage in the nation.  In other words there’s a lot of fraud … but not a lot of investigating.

If Ellis’ “work” is any indication, we may know why …

According to Ellis’ colleagues in Charleston, he was “constantly” out of his office – but was never called to account for his chronic absences because his supervisor was based out of SCDEW’s main office in Columbia, S.C.  Due to a steady stream of internal complaints, though, things eventually came to a head – although Ellis wasn’t required by his supervisors to start showing up for work.  Instead, sources at SCDEW tell FITS that he was “approved to work from home for an indefinate period.”  Not only that he was provided with a state-issued cell phone.

Pretty nice, huh?

Ready for the kicker?

“Just recently, in the same office, a severely handicapped woman had to have major reconstructive surgery and major physical rehabilitation to learn how to walk again,” one of our sources reveals.  “She was forced to use all her sick and annual leave and wasn’t given the opportunity to work from home.”

Why was Ellis given preferential treatment?  We’re not sure … but his colleagues clearly don’t appreciate it.  And neither should taxpayers.

SCDEW’s chief of staff and top unemployment insurance bureaucrat both resigned from the agency last month for unknown reasons, although some believe their decision to step down had something to do with a $9 million accounting error uncovered by FITS.

In April another top SCDEW staffer, Nicholas Anderson, resigned his post abruptly after just six months at the agency.  Anderson’s resignation came as FITS was following up on a scathing audit of the agency with an exclusive new report highlighting additional waste and duplication.

How have the agency’s leaders gone about “addressing” these issues?  With taxpayer-funded golf … and sunshine.  Hell … they took another glorified vacation over the long Thanksgiving weekend.

Frankly, it is past time that S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley – who is charge of SCDEW – fire this agency’s director.

SCDEW is an increasingly costly joke … with the ever-escalating tab being passed on to Palmetto State businesses and taxpayers.