State Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) is calling on the Illinois legislature to act after an audit revealed the state paid almost $2 billion in fraudulent unemployment claims during the pandemic.

Caulkins denounced the payments made by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), in a June 17 press release.

"This was pure negligence to pay out $1.8 billion in fraudulent claims," he said in a statement. "The House of Representatives must immediately convene legislative hearings to show us where the money went and come up with a solution to ensure this does not happen again."

Caulkins said that from the beginning, he asked IDES how the agency was handling fraudulent claims, but he was met with several excuses.

He said the audit found "the state did a horrible job and it's worse than we anticipated." He wants a hearing to be held so the IDES can explain where nearly $2 billion went.

According to the audit, the IDES failed to maintain accurate and complete pandemic unemployment assistance claimant data. The audit noted of the $3.6 billion in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance paid between July 2020 and June 2021, nearly $1.9 billion was tied to fraud.

Last June, Caulkins called out the fraud, according to a report by the Chambana Sun. At the time he wrote in a tweet that "they were able to quickly process fraudulent claims worth hundreds of millions but couldn't talk to those desperate for help." Even then he demanded to know how the agency let it happen.