A Kentucky man got a personal apology from the governor of his state, Andy Beshear after being accused of unemployment fraud.
The 46-year-old man whose legal name is Tupac Shakur was previously employed as a food service worker. Shakur had been waiting on his unemployment benefits after being laid off due to the coronavirus pandemic.
During a press conference on Monday night, Beshear spoke about people who were filing for benefits under fake names— lifting Shakur as an example.
“We had somebody apply for unemployment for Tupac Shakur here in Kentucky,” the governor said, “And that person may have thought they were being funny. Except for the fact that because of them, we had to go through so many other claims.”
The governor suggested that someone from his state tried to cheat the system by using the name of the multi-platinum Death Row artist that was murdered in 1996. He was wrong.
He later learned the truth: one of his law-abiding constituents has a name similar to the rap star, and is currently an unemployed resident of Lexington, Kentucky.
After learning of the error, Beshear called Shakur— who goes by his middle name, Malik — and apologized. But the damage was already done.
Shakur told the Lexington Herald-Leader that he was “hurt,” and “embarrassed” by the governor’s statement.
Previously employed as a cook, Shakur says that he applied for unemployment benefits on March 13. Four days later, he received an approval notice stating the amount of money he could expect. He’s been waiting for those funds ever since. “I’ve been struggling for like the last month trying to figure out how to pay the bills,” Shakur said.
The Herald-Leader gave the governor’s office Shakur’s phone number on Monday night after the press conference and the Democratic governor personally called him on Tuesday morning to apologize. He stated that the unemployment agency is working on his claim and will be releasing his funds.
For his part, Shakur is trying to keep his head up. He said that he forgave the governor for his blunder, “I understand, he’s dealing with a lot,” Shakur said, “Mistakes happen.”
The governor took it a step further and publicly acknowledged his error.
“I owe somebody an apology tonight. Last night, I spent a little bit of time talking about fraudulent claims holding us up. I mentioned an individual who had filed under the name of Tupac Shakur.” Beshear confessed, “I didn’t know (and it is my fault), that we have a Kentuckian who goes by Malik— whose name is Tupac Shakur. I talk to him on the phone today and I apologized.”
“He was gracious. I said I was sorry if I embarrassed him or caused him any attention he didn’t want.”
He ended his remarks on the subject with a promise to swiftly resolve Shakur’s claims.
Unemployment claims are high in Kentucky, like the rest of the country, more than 2.4% of the state’s workforce have filed unemployment claims.
Tupac Malik Shakur legally changed his name in 1998 after becoming a practicing Muslim. He chose the surname because it means “thankful to God” in Arabic.