(Daily Caller News Foundation) — A Democratic state representative called the past alleged sexual assault of a minor at the hands of a nonprofit employee “irrelevant” during a Minnesota committee meeting to consider funding to display artifacts from Honor the Earth, an indigenous group that brings awareness to environmental issues.
HB 2091 would allocate $200,000 to Honor the Earth and other organizations that would be used to curate and display their collections in a Minnesota museum over two years, according to the bill. Michael Dahl, a central community organizer for Honor the Earth, was accused in 2015 of assaulting a teenage boy during the 1990s, according to a lawsuit filed by former employee Margaret Campbell, but one legislator said those allegations were “irrelevant” to the current legislation.
“That lawsuit is irrelevant,” Democratic state Rep. Leigh Finke said to the Legacy Finance Committee in Minnesota on Friday.
MN Democrats think it is “irrelevant” that a group asking for state tax dollars employed and defended a man accused of sexually assaulting a minor, and allegedly fired an employee who spoke out. pic.twitter.com/3VrvhEjpJ8
— Alpha News (@AlphaNewsMN) March 17, 2023
“I’m embarrassed, I’m upset, I’m angry. This is wrong. This is not what we should have been talking about,” Finke said about a mention of the allegations during the hearing.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, when Campbell approached Winona LaDuke, a leader of Honor of the Earth, and pressured her to fire Dahl in the wake of the abuse allegations, she was later placed on leave.
Further, legal proceedings found that LaDuke said Dahl “probably did have sex” with a 15-year-old boy while serving as a camp counselor for Native American youth. “I don’t think mike is a predator or pedophile as he’s raised a lot of young men,” she continued.
LaDuke responded by saying that she gave Dahl a verbal warning and wrote, “On the Michael situation: Our community has social and spiritual processes for redress. I went to drum ceremonies yesterday and put out a dish of prayer asking for help and guidance,” according to an email she wrote on Feb. 9, 2015.
Honor the Earth eventually cut ties with Dahl, though he continued to appear at events with LaDuke, the Free Beacon reported.
Honor the Earth, Finke and LaDuke did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.