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Head of DES resigns after investigation by Gov. Doug Ducey’s office

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PHOENIX — The head of the Arizona Department of Economic Security resigned Wednesday after an investigation by the Gov. Doug Ducey’s office, a spokesman said.

In a statement, Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said DES had been under investigation for weeks before Tim Jeffries resigned.

“Given its size and impact on the citizens of our state, it (the investigation) required that level of attention,” Scarpinato said. “As 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.”

The investigation was launched after news reports said 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 earlier this week.

It was reported that 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.

Scarpinato said Henry Darwin, Ducey’s COO, would take over as interim director.

This week’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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