Lt. Governor Coleman on controversial UI texts: 'No one got special treatment'

Posted at 7:33 PM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 17:04:13-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman says she has no regrets about helping some people she knew get faster help with their unemployment claims.

"I called every single person that reached out to me about unemployment insurance whether I knew them or not, and I'll tell you I knew a lot fewer people than I did know," said Coleman who spoke with us while she visited Lexington Senior Center Thursday afternoon.

In March, WDRB-TV obtained Coleman's text messages to the then head of the Office of Unemployment Insurance. LEX 18 obtained the same information. In at least four instances last April, Coleman reached out to the then-executive director asking for special attention to certain people's claims, including her hairdresser.

Along with being the lieutenant governor, Coleman also serves as secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. The former executive director and his superior ultimately reported to Coleman at the time the messages, and unemployment insurance were within Coleman's cabinet.

Coleman maintains she didn't play favorites. She says she helped thousands of people.

"Our job as elected officials is to get them the help that they need, so that's what I did. No one got special treatment. Everyone who reached out to me got the help I could get them," said Coleman.

When asked if she understands why some people think her actions look bad, Coleman didn't make any apologies but criticized the initial story.

"Well, the way it was written it did, if you pull out certain text messages and only report on those then it looks bad but when you, like you just did, ask me about it I can be very honest with you that every single person who reached out to me whether I knew them or not got the same treatment," said Coleman.

While tens of thousands of Kentuckians waited on checks that never came, the people Coleman named received help.

She says she'll continue to help as many people as she can, whether she knows them or not.