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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen

Friday, July 19, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

Throughout the legislative session, I detailed several issues that have plagued the Department of Human Services (DHS). Most concerning was details that emerged following a report from the non-partisan Legislative Auditor (OLA) that found fraud, waste, and abuse in the state’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).

In its report, the OLA detailed a "serious rift" between the Department of Human Services’ Inspector General and CCAP investigators that resulted in DHS hiring an audit firm to review the work of the investigative unit, rather than working with investigators to address their serious concerns about program integrity.

It appears that some of those “rifts” have reached a breaking point as the four top officials at DHS all resigned in the last week.

Commissioner Tony Lourey's resignation on Monday followed the departure of Deputy Commissioners Chuck Johnson and Claire Wilson who both resigned unexpectedly without explanation from DHS last Friday.

On Tuesday evening, DHS Chief of Staff Stacie Weeks resigned.

The abrupt, unexplained departures of the top four officials at DHS this past week is deeply troubling, and reveal internal turmoil at our largest state agency. Minnesotans deserve answers and transparency from Governor Walz about what's going on at DHS.

Additionally, a former DHS Director, whose position was unexpectedly eliminated after 13 years in June, has called for an investigation by the Walz administration citing "systemic issues with the leadership culture of the agency.

We also discovered that an investigation into a complaint against DHS Inspector General Carolyn Ham has not begun, or begun only very recently, even though she has been on investigative leave for four months and has collected about $42,000 of her taxpayer-funded salary.

The Department has one of the largest budgets with $14.562 billion in taxpayer dollars allocated over the next two years.

It is clear that something is very wrong at DHS and Minnesotans deserve answers. The lack of information from the Department and the Walz administration is extremely troubling. If there are disagreements about the direction of the agency or anything else, the public deserves to know.

On Wednesday afternoon, the two deputy commissioner that had left last week rescinded their resignations, thus adding an additional layer of intrigue to this episode.

Stay tuned for additional information as this is a fluid story.

Staying in Touch

That’s all for this week’s update. I urge you to contact me if you have any legislative questions, concerns, or ideas. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4229 or via email at rep.glenn.gruenhagen@house.mn. 

Thanks and have a good weekend,

Glenn

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