DES Director Tim Jeffries decides to resign after controversy

Posted at 12:40 PM, Nov 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-23 18:32:37-05

The Director of Economic Security has decided to resign.

Tim Jeffries told ABC15 on Wednesday afternoon that he has submitted his resignation letter.

Jeffries said that he was forced to resign after being on the job less than two years. 

"For several weeks we have been engaged in a careful investigation of the agency," said Daniel Scarpinato, spokesman for Gov. Doug Ducey. "We a result of that review, Ducey has taken appropriate action today to move the agency forward in a way that will ensure we are meeting our mission of assisting Arizona's most vulnerable citizens."

Additionally, five other DES employees — who were close to Jeffries — also lost their jobs on Wednesday. Some of the people let go included DES's chief accountability officer, chief of staff and chief human resources officer.

The move comes after a challenging month for the director.

In October, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey took away Jeffries’ power to fire his staff. He was also accused of buying alcohol for an employee party.

An investigation by The Arizona Republic revealed DES dismissed a record 475 workers since the start of 2015. DES is the state's largest agency, with more than 7,000 employees.

The governor's office said the state human resources department will now review and approve any and all proposed terminations. 

ABC15 spoke to a pregnant woman who was fired from the department and is now on welfare. 

Sarah Coelho's job was to help other people sign up for welfare. She said she did nothing wrong to get fired. 

"I was 27 weeks pregnant, and I lost my insurance three days later," she said. "I had to pay out-of-pocket for all of my prescriptions and my doctor visits for the next month."

She said she didn't get a reason for getting fired.

"Just that my services were no longer needed," she said.

But Coelho wishes the governor would have taken away Jeffries' power before she was terminated.

Harry Darwin, the governor's chief operating officer, has taken over as interim DES director, effective immediately.