MN House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth says Democrats ‘not holding anyone accountable’ for widespread fraud

Demuth, accompanied by a group of GOP legislators, delivered remarks at the Minnesota Capitol, laying the blame at the feet of DFL lawmakers. 

House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth speaks at a press conference Monday alongside a group of Republican legislators. (Minnesota House Republican Caucus)

Republican Minnesota House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth held a press conference on Monday in which she discussed the extent of the hundreds of millions of dollars in fraud that has taken place in the state.

Demuth, accompanied by a group of GOP legislators, delivered remarks at the Minnesota Capitol, laying the blame at the feet of DFL lawmakers.

“We know that under full Democrat control, there have been OLA (Office of the Legislative Auditor) reports in the last few weeks that have come out, yet not one person has lost their job or been held fully accountable to the fraud that is in the state of Minnesota,” Demuth declared. “We believe that the majority is not taking the responsibility, they are not holding anyone accountable.”

Demuth made note of the specific instances of fraud which composed the House GOP’s $445 million estimate, stating, “one of the most egregious that has come to light in the last few weeks is the fraud of Feeding Our Future. That is proven by the OLA of $250 million of fraud that went out. Those dollars were intended to pay for meals for children that were hungry, children during the pandemic. But those dollars went out and they were misappropriated.”

An OLA report released last month found that the Minnesota Department of Education failed to provide proper oversight of federal meals program dollars and created an environment that allowed the $250 million Feeding Our Future fraud to take place. During a legislative hearing on the report, Education Commissioner Willie Jett declined to state how many, if any, employees of his agency have faced disciplinary action in connection to the fraud.

A separate report released just days earlier said the OLA could confirm eligibility for only 60% of Minnesotans who participated in a $500 million frontline worker bonus program during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know there are glaring deficiencies in oversight in allowing fraud to continue unchecked, and specifically in the case of Feeding Our Future, there were concerns already back in 2018 and 2019 prior to the pandemic, concerns that were brought forward,” Demuth added. “Not just Feeding Our Future, the $250 million that I referenced, but in the childcare assistance payment programs. Almost half of the money spent was noted by the OLA to have gone out in fraud.

“We are talking about over half a billion dollars of money that should have gone to the most vulnerable that didn’t go out, but it went out to fraud. Please help us get this message out to Minnesotans, this is fraud, and it needs to stop,” she said.

When asked what “holding agencies accountable” would involve, Demuth explained that it would include “holding commissioners, bringing them in for hearings, holding them accountable for what is happening in their agencies.” When pressed further, Demuth asserted that potentially firing or otherwise disciplining commissioners may be necessary, declaring, “whatever it takes to make that change.”

Of course, whether or not any of these officials involved with these agencies will be held accountable remains to be seen. As Demuth observed, “in Minnesota we are in full Democrat control, have been for two years.”

 

Evan Poellinger

Evan Poellinger, the Alpha News Summer 2024 Journalism Fellow, is a native Minnesotan with a lifelong passion for history and politics. He previously worked as a journalism intern with the American Spectator and an investigative journalism fellow with the Media Research Center. He is a graduate of College of the Holy Cross with degrees in political science and history.