In light of a recent FBI raid on a Minnesota nonprofit over alleged fraudulent spending, one Minnesota state senator is calling for an audit on all COVID-related funds and spending.
Sen. Roger Chamberlain, a Republican from Lino Lakes, serves as chair of the chamber’s education committee. He called for the audits in a statement released Friday afternoon.
“The amount of money available to help Minnesotans is staggering, and there has always been a concern with the oversight,” he said. “This money is supposed to help people, help kids, help small businesses. I appreciate the Department of Education’s diligence in reviewing these funds to catch this fraud.”
Chamberlain added: “I’m sure other agencies and departments could use support for oversight, so I am calling for an audit of all COVID-related funds and spending to hold accountable bad actors. We must ensure these dollars are going to those who need the help.”
The state senator’s remarks follow news of an FBI raid on over a dozen properties connected to “Feeding Our Future,” a nonprofit based in St. Anthony, Minnesota, whose stated mission is to “end childhood hunger” in the state.
But according to FBI search warrants, the nonprofit allegedly spent tens of millions of dollars on luxury cars, homes, and vacations with funds they obtained through COVID relief and may have stolen from various federally-funded programs. This money, the FBI claims, was laundered through shell corporations before being spent.
The Center of the American Experiment notes that Feeding our Future has received $245 million in taxpayer money.
The Minnesota Department of Education is also accusing Feeding Our Future of overrepresenting the number of children receiving food assistance and engaging in other fraudulent practices.
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt called the incident “just the tip of the iceberg for fraud in federal COVID programs” and, similar to Sen. Chamberlain, asked Gov. Tim Walz to investigate how other nonprofits are spending the money they receive from the state and federal government.
State Rep. Steve Drazkowski said he plans to introduce legislation to combat fraud in some of the relief programs.
“This food program, called Feeding our Future, is part of an organized crime network,” Drazkowski claimed.
He said he will pressure legislators from Minneapolis to support his bill because they have “turned a blind eye” to fraud in their city in the past.
They need to “stop ignoring” the fraud occurring in their city, “seemingly with their full knowledge,” he said.
At one point last spring, the Department of Education cut off Feeding our Future’s funding because it was growing suspicious of the organization. Sen. Omar Fateh then spoke at a gala for the charity and criticized the state for its actions, according to Sahan Journal. A video of that gala was removed from YouTube at some point on Friday.
“Meanwhile, the money intended for the poorest of the poor is blown on luxuries by criminals. Criminals continue to defraud the taxpayers of our state and nation right in front of the eyes of their elected leaders,” Drazkowski said at a press conference Friday.
This is a developing story and Alpha News will continue to follow it closely.