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Florida Department Of Economic Opportunity Head Ken Lawson Resigns

Two women hold a sign that reads, "Pay your people! Be accountable! Do your job! #FixItFlorida."
John Raoux
AP Photo
A small group of demonstrators gathers at Lake Eola Park to protest the Florida unemployment benefits system, Wednesday, June 10, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. Many Florida unemployed workers are still trying to apply for and receive unemployment benefits since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Head Ken Lawson resigned today. His department has come under fire after its CONNECT online unemployment system failed in March when the coronavirus walloped Florida. During that time, businesses either had to shut down or scale back, causing massive layoffs. But the state's unemployment system couldn't handle the influx of new people applying for benefits. It crashed and glitched, locking out many who needed relief. Lawson had previously helped author a memo, warning Gov. Ron DeSantis about the website's "capabilities." In April, DeSantis put someone else in charge of handling the website, pushing Lawson aside. Lawson says he is stepping down in the "spirit of turning the page and moving forward" in his resignation letter. DeSantis says the state already has a replacement but did not name the individual.