Governor Apologizes To Cook He Accused Of Using Joke Name On Unemployment Application

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NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 27: A note posted outside a restaurant in Kips Bay as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 27, 2020 in New York City. The World Health Organization declared coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic on March 11th.
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Governor Andy Beshear (D-KY) has apologized to a Kentucky cook he falsely accused of applying for unemployment with a joke name. The governor made the original remarks in a segment of Monday’s coronavirus press conference, during which he mentioned that that the state was slow to process unemployment claims. 

“I owe somebody an apology tonight,” said the governor, according to a video segment posted by Recount. “Last night I spent a little bit of time talking about fraudulent claims holding us up. I mentioned an individual that had filed in the name of Tupac Shakur.”

“I didn’t’ know and it’s my fault that we have a Kentuckian, who goes by Malik, whose name is Tupac Shakur,” said Beshear, who was unaware his constituent shared the name of the deceased 90’s rapper at the time he accused him of slowing everything down. “I talked to him on the phone today. I apologized. I told him how it happened, but I owned it. It’s my fault.”

“He was gracious, and I said I’m sorry if I embarrassed him and caused him any attention he didn’t want,” he said. “He was very kind. He ended the call ‘God Bless,’ and we’re going to make sure that we resolve his claim.”

During a coronavirus press conference on Monday, the governor used Tupac Shakur as an example of the “bad apples” making the unemployment review process slower, and as such, causing delays for the rest of the people waiting, according to remarks captured by The Lexington Herald Leader

“We had someone apply for unemployment for Tupac Shakur, here in Kentucky. And that person probably thought they were being funny. They probably did,” said the governor. “Except for the fact that because of them, we got to go through so many other claims.”

“One person, thinking that they were funny using someone else’s identity, is going to make tens of thousands, potentially, of other people wait,” he said. “We can’t be doing that, and we shouldn’t be doing that as we move forward.”

The Herald Leader reported on the governor’s mistake after the press conference, having tracked down Shakur and determining that he was actually a laid off cook, not a person applying for unemployment under a joke name. 

“I’ve been struggling for like the last month trying to figure out how to pay the bills,” said Shakur, who told the news agency he changed his last name in 1998 to mean “thankful to God” in Arabic. “I’m hurt, I’m really embarrassed and I’m shocked.”

The news agency also sent Shakur’s phone number to the governor’s office, which claimed it couldn’t find him, and reported that Shakur was grateful for the governor’s personal call and accepted his apology. 

“I understand, he’s dealing with a lot,” said Shakur. “Mistakes happen.”

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