Tony Lourey left the Minnesota Senate in January 2019 to take over as Commissioner of DHS. His tenure did not last long as Lourey on July 13th resigned his position but gave no reason as to why he was resigning in his letter to Governor Tim Walz. The only clue that was given is Lourey said “He felt he was not the right person to lead,” as stated by Governor Walz.
Lourey’s resignation comes after deputy Commissioners Chuck Johnson and Claire Wilson announced their own resignations from DHS on Jul. 11. Both Johnson and Wilson also left with little to no explanation.
Deputy Commissioner Chuck Johnson was put in charge of Carolyn Ham’s role in the Office of the Inspector after she was put on leave in March because the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) released a report that showed her passive stance in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) fraud scandal.
DHS has an $18 million dollar budget but has now lost three of its key leaders. DHS has come under fire in the state after major fraud within the CCAP program was uncovered. DHS has administrative authority over CCAP but the OLA report identified a serious rift between the two.
“There is something just below the surface that none of us know about.” Senator Abeler (R-Anoka) said regarding the string of DHS resignations. “This is now an agency in crisis,” Senator Abeler (R-Anoka) he also said, adding that “the confidence of the million people who need the services from DHS … (is) at risk.”
Pam Wheelock, Chief Operating Officer at Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, was appointed to Lourey’s position of Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner on Jul. 15 by Governor Walz.
Megan Olson is a 2020 graduate of the University of Minnesota with degrees in political science and history. She works in public affairs in addition to serving on the Legislative Advisory Council for School District 196. She is also on the school board for FIT academy, a charter school in Apple Valley.