A day after the release of a scathing report that the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions overpaid $ 250 million in unemployment benefits, former Secretary Bill McCamley on Thursday visited social media to explain his abrupt resignation last month.
“I left the post for no other reason than the safety of myself and my family,” McCamley wrote in a series of messages.
Threats over the phone to the department “were fairly common” at the start of the pandemic, but then the situation worsened.
“People would show up at the office and try to start brawls with the security guards,” he wrote, adding that the windows were also smashed.
“The most tangible evidence of violence has occurred in an actual terrorist incident: an incendiary bomb was used to destroy a state car in our Las Cruces office,” wrote McCamley, who included a photo of a burnt out car. “The explosion was so hot it melted the engine block.”
In March, McCamley wrote, he received a call from a local office informing him that a man was blaming him for his wife’s “unemployment problems” and asking her where McCamley lived and when he was home.
“He had a history of instability and an intimate knowledge of automatic weapons,” McCamley wrote.
The following month, a job seeker sent a letter to his home. While the letter is not threatening, “it doesn’t take a scientist to see that it was only a matter of time before my home address and other personal information was shared on social media and fell between the hands of people who want violence, ”he wrote.
The Associated Press reported that New Mexico State Police opened an arson investigation in November in connection with a vehicle at a Workforce Solutions office in Las Cruces, although no arrests have been made. performed. State police have also patrolled the area around the Las Cruces offices in recent months in response to the threats, the agency confirmed.
After reviewing the situation over a weekend, McCamley wrote that he informed the governor’s office of his decision to step down on a Monday.
“This was only reinforced when 5 days later a letter appeared to my mother’s address,” he wrote. “I have received threats before as a public official, but this time it looks different. “
McCamley said several officials in similar positions required police protection. An official said his parents were “harassed around the clock” after sharing their cell phone number.
In addition, with the attempted kidnapping of Michigan Governor Whitmer, the Jan. 6 insurgency, and recently with the AZ Secretary of State required to receive round-the-clock police protection in the face of threats, he has become painfully obvious that at this point in history some people are ready to express their anger in a violent way, ”he wrote.“ For me it reached a point where I firmly believe that if I stayed , I would put my life and the lives of those who are dear to me in danger. “
He indicated that he was planning to leave the state, which was not easy, he wrote, as he invested his entire adult life in public service “for my friends and neighbors here.” .
He also wrote that he was “extremely proud of the work of the ministry during the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression” and that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and his team “have been nothing but supportive, elegant and understanding. “.
“I also understand the pain, frustration and anger experienced by so many people. And criticism of public officials is and should be part of public discourse in a democracy, ”he wrote.
“However, after all this, I also implore the media and the public to think hard about their tone as these matters of great importance are discussed,” he added. “The more problems we make, the more common and acceptable situations like the above become. And they shouldn’t be.
Meanwhile, Stacy Johnston, spokesperson for the Department of Workforce Solutions, said the agency disputed overpaying $ 250 million in unemployment insurance benefits, as reported to the Legislative Finance Committee on Wednesday. She said the figure is actually $ 105 million.
But Jon Courtney, deputy director of the Legislative Finance Committee, said legislative staff members based the $ 250 million figure on the agency’s own data.
“We discussed this with them, not only at an exit conference, but we gave them the report,” he said. “They had it for over a week. We asked them to accurately verify any issues that they did not report at the exit conference or during the hearing. [Wednesday], so we maintain that number.