Tim Jeffries, a well-loved director of Arizona’s state welfare agency, the Department of Economic Security, was fired in November of last year. As I covered previously, this valiant conservative merely followed the governor’s orders to trim the agency of bad employees. Arizona’s left-wing media pounced on the firings — note that the left frequently takes the side of criminals — and sure enough, some of the fired employees had been caught stealing from the agency, stealing from the poor.
Jeffries was also targeted because he took on Democrat dishonesty. His predecessor was too afraid to take on a Democrat legislator who was illegally receiving food stamps. Jeffries discovered the full story from a DES investigator and had the fraudulent legislator prosecuted. Sadly, that honest investigator was later fired over this, even though a grand jury indicted Rep. Cecilia Velasquez on three felonies. A former Democrat state legislator, Leah Landrum-Taylor, received an appointment under Jeffries at DES, but used the position to undermine him, hoping to move up in the ranks. The Arizona Republic has still not revealed the actual facts, despite the fact there is photographic evidence proving her lies.
One of the employees who was terminated was featured sympathetically in the Republic. What the yellow journalism didn’t reveal is that she was terminated for hostilely telling (threatening?) a member of the public who came in for services, “You’re lucky you’re on the other side of the counter!” In contrast, under Jeffries’ tenure, there was an outbreak of clients who sent DES letters of support, something which had never happened before.
Over 1,000 DES employees contacted Jeffries after he was fired, expressing their condolences. The newspaper didn’t bother to report that. His Facebook page is full of photos of DES employees smiling and joking around under Jeffries’ fun-filled leadership. Thousands of the 7,000-plus employees there loved how he transformed the stodgy, unhappy agency into a workplace environment that was fun and efficient. He called those he worked with colleagues, not employees, and responded personally to emails from each and every one of them.
Incredibly, 40 of the 475 fired DES employees are now being reinstated, and firings have slowed to a trickle. The liberal reporter at the Republic responsible for many of the hit pieces on Jeffries, Craig Harris, bragged, “Firings of state government workers plummeted during the final three months of 2016, with just 17 involuntary separations in December, following a series of Arizona Republic and azcentral stories that uncovered questionable and improper dismissals at state agencies.” The governor’s chief of staff admitted that agency directors are now afraid of seeing their names publicly linked to “wrongful” firings. However, the termination rate of Jeffries’ predecessor was about the same, approximately one a day.
Jeffries recognizes the names of many of the DES employees who are being hired back, and says they are “bad apples” who have no business getting their jobs back. He fired “bullies, racists, sexual harassers and slackers.” Fraudsters were arrested.
The “fake news” has continued since Jeffries’ firing. Incredibly, even after my article refuting much of the Republic’s hit piece on Jeffries’ firing came out, the Republic ran another piece repeating much of the fake news. It was such a well-done hit piece, if you only read that article, you’d likely think Jeffries really was a bad dude.
For example, the left-wing local media ignored the restructuring Jeffries implemented, which put in place better management. “People who had iron grips on their respected positions were exited,” Jeffries said about some really bad characters. The biased media deliberately did not report that the Arizona Department of Administration approved every firing — it wasn’t just done by Jeffries and DES. All state agencies are required to have a Human Resources chief who is actually an employee of ADOA. After Jeffries was fired, his HR director was fired as collateral damage. Now, ridiculously, the state HR chief will have to review every firing in the state. It’s “bureaucracy gone wrong,” Jeffries says.
Jeffries is fighting back, giving interviews to local news stations and submitting his opinion to the Republic. Why would a very successful private businessman in the private sector like Jeffries (I’ve known him for years) agree to head a state government agency? When the governor asked him if he wanted to head a state agency, Jeffries chose DES. It is because he comes from a poor background himself, and knew he could make DES much more efficient as he’d done running business in the private sector. Jeffries transformed the agency into something unimaginable. Originally a state agency with a bad reputation (the case in most states), DES became a part of government where both Democrats and Republicans were proud to work.
Jeffries is a role model for how state agencies should be run — not merely for efficiency, but for his compassion. Seven colleagues reached out to him as director and told him they were homeless, and he helped them. They have said they would speak to the press, but Jeffries has asked them not to, because he is worried something might happen to them. He and his wife spent over $40,000 of their own money helping others they met at the agency. One woman spent two weeks sleeping in a DES closet. Don’t expect the left-leaning media to report the fact that Jeffries helped her.
Does this sound like a state agency director who should have been fired, or more like a left-wing witch hunt against a kind, successful conservative reformer? “I was the governor’s top reformer, and I’m gone,” he told Arizona’s ABC-15. His final message to his remaining DES colleagues after being fired? He loves them and he looks forward to remaining their good friend. There may be litigation. Let’s hope this top reformer finds his way back into government. He’s desperately needed.