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Latest flak surrounding Arizona DES director shakes up Gov. Doug Ducey

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PHOENIX — Recent reports of an office party that included office-hours drinking hosted by Department of Economic Security Director Tim Jeffries has pushed Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to request an investigation.

Ducey has admitted confidence in his appointee had been “shaken.”

The Republican governor said Monday that he was investigating after news reports that Jeffries hosted a party in the spring where alcohol was served to employees.

“We’re just trying to get to the bottom of what are the facts and then see what adjustments are needed,” Ducey said.

It was reported that at an April party in Nogales, Arizona, was a celebration in part, of Jeffries convincing some of the employees to give up their civil service protections.

Jeffries has maintained the party took place after hours.

Monday’s comments were the first from Ducey that didn’t express support of Jeffries, who has faced several controversies since taking office.

In February, the department placed an employee on leave pending an inquiry into allegations of abuse of a Mesa woman.

In August 2015, a DES employee was arrested on charges of food-stamp fraud.

Ducey appointed Jeffries in February 2015. He then stripped Jeffries of firing authority last month after the Arizona Republic reported that roughly half of the 500 DES workers Jeffries had fired had glowing performance reviews.

The department oversees services for the aging, child support, domestic violence, homelessness, refugee resettlement, unemployment benefits, food stamps and health insurance for the poor, among others.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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