Gov. Tim Walz was first alerted to Feeding Our Future’s suspicious activity in April or May 2020, or possibly the summer of 2020, and maybe even November 2020.
That’s the story he and his office gave the Minnesota Reformer in an article published Friday.
Officials with the Minnesota Department of Education told a Senate committee earlier this year they first detected the fraud scheme a month after it began, which U.S. Attorney Andy Luger said was April 2020.
Luger’s office charged 49 people last week for allegedly defrauding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Federal Nutrition Programs of $250 million intended to feed hungry kids. Most of the money never reached the children and instead was spent on things like cars, houses, resorts, Bitcoin, and more, the charges say.
Walz is under fire because his Department of Education is responsible for administering the federal program in Minnesota.
His administration initially claimed it was ordered by Judge John Guthmann to continue issuing payments after Feeding Our Future sued. But Guthmann put that falsehood to rest last week.
WCCO Radio then said Gov. Walz wasn’t “willing to talk to reporters” earlier this week.
The governor broke his silence in an interview with the Minnesota Reformer. The outlet said Walz was “verbally briefed” about “suspicious activity” in the program in “late April or early May of 2020.”
A spokesperson then said the governor “misspoke” and didn’t learn of the possible fraud until federal authorities were notified, which was the summer of 2020, according to a Senate timeline.
His office then followed up a third time, saying Walz didn’t find out until November 2020 when Feeding Our Future sued the state.
This means the governor knew about the possible fraud for a minimum of six months before the FBI began its investigation.