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Suzi LeVine, head of Washington state’s unemployment agency, to take job in Biden administration

UPDATED: Fri., Jan. 22, 2021

LeVine  (Associated Press)
LeVine (Associated Press)
By Paul Roberts Seattle Times Seattle Times

Suzi LeVine, commissioner of Washington state’s Employment Security Department (ESD), is stepping down to take a job in the Biden administration, the agency announced Friday.

The agency released no details about LeVine’s role. Her departure from ESD is effective Feb. 1.

Cami Feek, the ESD’s deputy commissioner and chief operating officer, will take over as commissioner until Gov. Jay Inslee appoints a permanent replacement.

“I wish Suzi the very best in her next adventure,” Inslee said in a statement Friday. “Her dedication and hard work will add value to the Biden-Harris administration.”

LeVine, 51, who was appointed ESD Commissioner in July 2018, oversaw the agency during a period of dramatic change and extraordinary crisis. She is credited with launching cutting-edge programs such as the state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave law.

But LeVine also came under heavy criticism for the agency’s handling of the wave of unemployment claims filed by jobless workers during the pandemic as well as a massive fraud scheme that siphoned off some $600 million in benefits last spring.

Although critics called for LeVine’s ouster, she maintained the support of Inslee – the result, some said, of her prominence as a fundraiser for the Democratic Party.

On Friday, Inslee said LeVine “led the Employment Security Department through an extremely challenging time and I never doubted that she had the best interests of working Washingtonians at the heart of all her endeavors.”

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