Atty Gen: Dann (D) Calls for Federal Investigation of BWC Premium Overrides
Today State Sen. Marc Dann (Liberty Township) received the internal audit that he has been requesting from the Bureau of Workers Compensation and promptly announced that he will ask the U.S. Attorney's Division of Public Integrity to review whether the BWC inappropriately cut premium rates for some employers.
Dann said he is asking the Justice Department to step in because the internal audit "raises far more questions than it answers." Dann will also make a formal public records request seeking all documents related to all manual overrides granted by the BWC over the past six months and for the identity of all parties involved in requesting and granting the premium reductions, and is prepared to sue the BWC if his request is denied.
What Dann received is a draft audit report acknowledging that 75% of the premium cuts or "manual overrides" sampled in the study either (1) did not appear to follow fixed and equitable rules, (2) appeared to contravene existing policy, and/or (3) were without documentation authorizing or explaining the reasons for the override. The overrides sampled were only those occurring between January 1, 2003 and September 30, 2005 and therefore represent a small fraction of the total number granted. The audit fails to name who requested or granted the premium reductions, in apparent violation of BWC guidelines.
"Once again it appears that a complete lack of oversight by Betty Montgomery and other officeholders has enabled BWC officials to play fast and loose with the rules and taxpayer dollars," Dann said. "In this case, some employers were apparently granted premium cuts just because they asked for them and someone at the Bureau had the power to give them whether they were warranted or not. As a result, other employers were forced to pay a corruption tax in the form of higher rates. That's wrong and we need to find out now why and how it happened and who was involved."
"I do know this, however, just as was true in Coingate, officials at the BWC had absolutely no fear of being caught because they knew the person who was supposed to be watching, Betty Montgomery, was not doing her job," Dann noted.
Dann said he is asking the U.S. Attorney's office to investigate because the BWC has proven its inability to police itself. "To get to the bottom of this we need to look at every manual override going back to the day the BWC was put under the control of the governor. The fact that 75% of the small sample they examined in this audit were found to be questionable is an indication of how much abuse was taking place. As I said last week, we need to know who the 'Terry Gasper' or go-to guy for premium cuts was, and I have no confidence that the BWC itself will be able to provide that answer."
"The audit implies that elected officials, including some who may be on the ballot this November 7th, may be involved in this activity," Dann said. "The voters have a right to know who those people are before they go to the polls. This is a time for full disclosure—not for continued cover-ups."
Senator Dann noted that if a concerned BWC employee had not brought the audit to his attention no one would know the study was being conducted. "They could have done the study, issued new rules, and never told a soul why they did it," Dann said. "Now we at least know something is apparently very wrong at the Bureau and we will, fortunately, have the opportunity to make sure the whole truth comes out."