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At last week’s hearing about the crisis within the Minnesota Department of Human Services, it became instantly clear that transparency and cooperation weren’t priorities for top HHS officials:

To get the answers to those questions, Benson and Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, asked seven current and former top DHS brass to attend the hearing. They included Lourey and his chief of staff, Stacie Weeks; the on-leave inspector general, Carolyn Ham; acting inspector general Bob Jacobsen; and the two department deputies who resigned, then unresigned in the wake of Lourey’s departure: Claire Wilson and Chuck Johnson. But of those seven invitees, only one showed up: acting DHS Commissioner Pam Wheelock, who took the job July 15 and will relinquish it to new DHS Commissioner Jodi Harpstead on Sept. 3.

This was Gov. Walz’s equivalent of giving Sen. Benson the finger. While campaigning, Gov. Walz said that transparency and unity would be cornerstones of his administration. The evidence is now in. It proves that Gov. Walz doesn’t put a high priority on transparency, cooperation or unity.

Carolyn Ham, disgraced HHS IG
It figures that the only official that showed up is the person that’s leaving. That fits perfectly with the Walz administration’s governance-by-stiff-arm philosophy.

The lack of participation — and the subsequent paucity of new information revealed – was anticipated by Benson in her opening comments, in which she compared trying to get information out of the agency with the arcade game “Whack-a-Mole.” “Somehow the Legislature never gets direct answers,” Benson said. “It’s time for the shoulder-shrugging to stop. And for those who say it’s time to move on, that there’s nothing to see here, I can tell you it’s not time to move on; it is time to learn a lesson.”

If the DFL wants to offer nothing but silence on why there’s rampant fraud in several major programs, that’s their right — for the moment. Don’t be surprised if the DFL’s refusal to be transparent is turned into a potent campaign issue. If Minnesotans hope to determine why there’s rampant chaos within HHS, they’ll need to rely on Michelle Benson and Jim Abeler.

Jim Nobles is the other official who will get to the bottom of this. It won’t come from the Walz administration:

After 10 minutes of Wheelock going through slides describing the agency’s functions and beneficiaries, Benson interrupted.
“We sent a list of the topics we were interested in and so far you haven’t hit on any of those, and I am wondering when your presentation is going to get to those?” she asked.
“I’ll get to those very quickly,” Wheelock answered.
“I think now would be a good time,” Benson said.

As obvious as it is that Wheelock was stalling, that isn’t the galling part of her presentation. This is:

“At some point, we have to accept that these are personal choices,” she continued. “I have not found any issue about impropriety. I have not found any issue about any kind of criminal activity. There is no scandal. There is no chaos. I think it’s time to move on and let these people have some personal privacy and lives.”

Right. Toney Lourey accepted a government job that afforded him a annual pay raise of over $100,000 dollars, then abandons it 6 months later. That happens all the time. It’s virtually routine. Not. There’s no question that there’s a scandal here. Jim Nobles investigated the matter. He determined that there was rampant fraud.

If these DFL bureaucrats and DFL legislators want to say that there isn’t a scandal within HHS, that’s a fight Republicans should be thrilled to fight.

The forever-indispensable Harold Hamilton, aka Minnesota Watchdog, provided a ‘history lesson’ of sorts on HHS’s failings in his most recent commentary. In his commentary, Hamilton noted the following:

  1. October 2013: MNsure (Obamacare) web site launch failure. Ultimately, the web site would cost $190 million to get up and running.
  2. January 2016: A failure to properly determine eligibility for various programs results in at least $271 million in improper benefits being paid.
  3. July 2017: $7.7 million in fraudulent Medicaid payments discovered.
  4. April 2018: DHS writes off over $30 million in Minnesota Care premiums because of software problems.
  5. May 2018: The OLA reports significant problems with oversight of the DHS Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP). OLA noted, “DHS did not implement sufficient program integrity controls for licensing childcare providers and lacked some key controls to identify errors and to inhibit, track, and recover improper payments.”
  6. July 2018: Data breach at DHS exposes the personal data of 21,000 citizens.
  7. September 2018: Data breach at DHS exposes the personal data of 3,000 citizens.
  8. April 2019: Data breach at DHS exposes the personal data of 11,000 citizens.
  9. June 2019: Medical director at DHS demands more agency accountability measures – gets fired.
  10. July 2019: After placing the DHS Inspector General on investigatory leave, it’s revealed that the investigation has yet to even begin.
  11. July 2019: Top deputies resign.
  12. July 2019: DHS commissioner resigns after only months on the job.
  13. August 2019: DHS overpays two Indian tribes over $25 million, OLA starts investigation.

Think about all those crises. Then think about who was the person in charge of either the oversight of HHS or in charge of running HHS itself. The man’s name is Tony Lourey. First, he co-wrote the bill that created MNsure. Then he ignored the warning signs that the website wouldn’t run properly when it went live. Then he ignored Michelle Benson’s criticisms that MNsure needed legitimate oversight.

Meanwhile, the Dayton administration kept ignoring data breaches, most likely because they didn’t have the expertise required to fix these problems. In light of the Democrats’ failings, why should we have faith that the Department will suddenly get run smoothly? The truth is that the Party of Big Government, aka the DFL, aka Democrats, have a lengthy history of failing Minnesota’s taxpayers in terms of running government properly.

To be blunt, Tim Walz and Mark Dayton have failed the people. The people shouldn’t have trusted them whatsoever. Let’s forget their public personas. Let’s focus on their ineptitude instead. Let’s look at their handling of budget negotiations, too.

Dayton either shut down the government or he required a special session in 3 of his 4 budget sessions. In one of his budget sessions, he negotiated an entire week with Speaker Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk. They couldn’t reach a deal. The final Friday of the session, they sat down and put together a bipartisan budget deal in less than an hour. Then Dayton rejected it, taking the legislature into special session.

This year, Gov. Tim Walz insisted on a $12,000,000,000 tax increase over 4 years despite the fact that his own MMB director said that the state had a massive balance in the state’s Rainy Day Fund and that we were projected to run a surplus in excess of $1,000,000,000. Gov. Walz and the DFL House still insisted on the tax increase after it was announced that revenues were coming in faster than projected. Paul Gazelka ended the argument with this great chart:

Let’s be blunt about this. The DFL has caused one budget disaster after another. Even when money is pouring in, the DFL has insisted on taking a higher percentage of your paycheck. Once the GOP has forced some sensibility into the budgeting process and the budget is signed into law, Gov. Walz and the DFL insist on running 1 fraud-riddled program after another.

To top this off, the DFL specializes in thwarting transparency. Gov. Walz even picked an anti-transparency expert to run the Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services, the most anti-transparency and fraud-riddled department in the state.

What part of this suggests competence? What part of this suggests that the DFL approves of transparency? Here’s a hint: none of this suggests that the DFL is competent. None of this information suggests that the DFL approves of transparency.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse within Minnesota’s Department of Health and Human Services, Gov. Tim Walz makes it much worse. Gov. Walz made the situation much worse by picking Jodi Harpstead to take over as commissioner of HHS in September.

Commissioner Harpstead is currently employed as the CEO of Lutheran Social Services, aka LSS. For the past 5+ years, LSS has specialized in the Refugee Resettlement program. That means that they’ve specialized in hiding important details about who was coming into Minnesota’s communities. This isn’t speculation. It’s well-documented fact.

When former City Councilman Jeff Johnson participated in a discussion on the refugee resettlement program, he expressed frustration with LSS:

To summarize that meeting, what I saw, four things were occurring. One, we have a nonprofit religious organization, OK, taking federal dollars, and they were pocketing approximately $1,000 per refugee. The allocation’s about 3,300 (dollars), but they got to keep about $1,000 per refugee, OK? They were not being transparent with the public, and it got to the point where they actually had a deputy at the door monitoring who was coming into the meetings. And I said you need to open up these meetings because you’re using federal dollars, you’re a nonprofit organization, and to me it was becoming apparent that they were acting like a for-profit corporation.

LSS was the volag running the meetings. Now, Gov. Walz has tapped the CEO of LSS to be the commissioner of HHS. Saying that HHS is embroiled in a crisis is understatement. Part of the crisis is rampant fraud within HHS.

When HHS Commissioner Tony Lourey abruptly resigned last month, he didn’t say why he was leaving, other than saying that the Department needed new leadership that he wasn’t capable of providing. The week prior to Lourey’s resignation, his 2 deputies resigned without an explanation. They’ve since returned to their positions.

If ever there was a department that needed a massive infusion of transparency, HHS is it. Hiring a woman whose current organization specializes in hiding things from government officials isn’t a first step towards building confidence with the public.

This hiring smacks of arrogance in the worst way. This is Gov. Walz’s attempt to stiff-arm the legislature, at least the part that gives a damn about providing oversight. (At this point, the DFL House isn’t interested in providing oversight.)

This week, Senate Republicans held a 3.5 hour-long oversight hearing into why “the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the White Earth Nation received $25.3 million in excess payments for medically assisted treatments covered through Medicaid over several years.” At the hearing, Committee Chair Michelle Benson said “The taxpayers didn’t make this mistake. They’re not the ones who used the judgment to cause the overpayments, why should they be held responsible?” She also said that “lawmakers shouldn’t have to allocate $25 million in additional funds to cover overpayments to two tribes.”

HHS needs a serious culture change. It’s questionable that Ms. Harpstead will provide that type of leadership. The organization she’s currently running specializes in secrecy and stiff-arming local politicians. That isn’t the reputation of a reformer. Make no mistake, either. HHS needs a reformation:

Other DHS employees or former employees shared with the committee their concerns about what they’d faced at the department. The former Medicaid program director told the panel bureaucrats in the department rejected advice from medical professionals and abruptly dismissed him in July.

And Faye Bernstein, a DHS compliance officer, said she was put on temporary leave when she raised concerns about compliance in state contracts. She was later allowed to return to her post and appeared Tuesday on a vacation day. She said she’d received notice ahead of the hearing that she could be terminated for her comments to lawmakers.

Think about that a minute. Bernstein was “put on temporary leave” because “she raised concerns about compliance” issues. If that isn’t proof that HHS needs a total reformation, then it’s hopeless.

The Senate has the constitutional responsibility of confirming commissioners. Unless Sen. Benson’s committee gets proof that Harpstead is serious about changing the culture at HHS, the Senate should reject her, then tell Gov. Walz that he needs to appoint someone who is committed to transparency and reformation.

Gov. Walz took time to visit the Vikings’ training facility. Apparently, he thinks that being the CEO of the state is a part-time responsibility. Thus far, he’s been a huge disappointment.

Tim Walz’s campaign slogan of #OneMinnesota turned into a lie. It didn’t take long for Transparency Tim to turn into Cover-up Tim. It took less than 9 months.

When Tony Lourey resigned in disgrace, he left without an explanation. Earlier, when Lourey’s deputy commissioners left, they left without explanation. When the Department of Human Services improperly sent $25,000,000 to the White Earth and Leech Lake Indian reservations, the Walz administration was as silent as a mime.

Instead, the DFL is attempting to spin its way out of difficulty this way:


This spin just says that there are some important programs within Human Services. It doesn’t prove that those programs/departments are well-run or transparent. Why should I trust people that haven’t given me a reason to trust them? In fact, I’d argue that the DFL and the Walz administration hasn’t just not given me a reason not to trust them but it’s also true that the DFL and the Walz administration have given me tons of reasons not to trust them.

In my estimation, Democrats are both corrupt and inept. Jim Nobles, Minnesota’s Legislative Auditor, stated in a post-investigation report that corruption was “rampant.” Also, Gov. Dayton was easily the most inept governor in Minnesota history. By comparison, Jesse Ventura looked positively Reaganesque. Between Gov. Dayton and Gov. Walz, we’ve received the worst of both worlds.

Why hasn’t Gov. Walz investigated Carolyn Ham? What’s happening there is unacceptable. If that happened in the private sector, Ham would’ve been fired months ago. Ham has collected more than $42,000 since being put on paid leave pending an investigation. It’s noteworthy that the investigation was supposed to start more than 4 months ago. It still hasn’t started.

It sounds to me like Gov. Walz doesn’t want this investigation to happen. If he wanted it to happen, they likely could’ve gotten most of it done by now. It’s apparent that Gov. Walz’s rhetoric about transparency was just talk. His talk hasn’t translated into action. Without the investigation, the problem just persists.

I’m pretty confident that taxpayers want solutions, not excuses. To use a Texas saying, thus far, Gov. Walz has been all hat and no cattle. To steal a cliché from an ancient Wendy’s commercial:

Rep. Nick Zerwas has had it with the DFL’s unseriousness about rampant fraud at the Department of Human Services.

Rep. Zerwas issued this statement to highlight yet another case of uncaught fraud:

Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River, who serves on the House HHS Finance Division and has been outspoken on the issue of waste, fraud, and abuse at the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), issued the following statement regarding this morning’s Pioneer Press report that DHS overpaid the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the White Earth Nation by $25 million for Medicaid services. Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles will be soon opening an investigation into the overpayments. According to a statement from Governor Walz, the overpayment issue had been occurring for five years.

“Republicans have been sounding the alarm about waste, fraud, and abuse across DHS for years—this is an agency that seems to have a blatant disregard for taxpayer dollars, and is simply not doing enough to stop activity that is costing taxpayers tens of millions each year,” Zerwas said. “It’s time for House Democrats to stop ignoring the turmoil at DHS, hold hearings, and get answers to the questions we all have about Minnesota’s largest state agency.”

All 55 members of the House Republican Caucus sent a letter earlier this week to House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, requesting hearings on the leadership shakeup at DHS.

It’s apparent that Gov. Walz and Speaker Hortman haven’t taken this expanding scandal seriously. Jim Nobles has already issued a report that highlights rampant fraud within DHS. Apparently, he’ll soon be starting another investigation into this scandal.

At what point will the DFL, Gov. Walz and Speaker Hortman put a higher priority on fixing this mess than they’re putting on playing CYA? Gov. Walz ran on the slogan of One Minnesota. Apparently, if you’re part of the government, he’ll fight for you and protect you. If you’re a taxpayer, Gov. Walz will let your hard-earned taxes get stolen by government grifters. Doesn’t it feel great to know that this administration protects cronies while shafting taxpayers?

This is just the latest incident where cheating was exposed. Nobles’ report is filled with other examples of fraud that weren’t detected until well after the fraud was committed.

This is just proof that the Party of Big Government, aka the DFL, is also the Party of Unlimited Slush Funds to their special interest allies. The DFL has proven that they just can’t be bothered with governing with integrity.

A coalition of DFL activists, a significant portion of whom are paid activists, organized a resist movement event at Monday night’s St. Cloud City Council Meeting. Included in the coalition of DFL activists were “the East Central Area Labor Council, TakeAction Minnesota and #UniteCloud, according to Jane Conrad, field representative for East Central Labor Council.” TakeAction Minnesota is one of the most hardline progressive organizations in Minnesota.

I wrote about TakeAction Minnesota’s depravity in this post because they went out to then-Congressman Jason Lewis’ home to spread their fear and hatred to Lewis’s family and neighbors by trespassing on Lewis’s property. What’s ridiculous is that Monday night’s activists carried signs that read “We are greater than hate”:

TakeAction Minnesota is among the greatest fear-mongers in the state. TAM is one of the weapons that the DFL uses to stifle debate. They aren’t about civic pride. They’re about shutting down debate. They’re about intimidation. If TAM didn’t have fear and intimidation, they wouldn’t be activists.

As for #UniteCloud, that organization specializes in preventing transparency and accountability. Whenever someone asks for information on how much the refugee resettlement program costs, #UniteCloud reflexively accuses that person of being Islamophobic and racist. This DFL hate group isn’t interested in having a discussion about the program itself. It’s about overthrowing an election of 2 conservatives. (The rest of the City Council are either progressives or Chamber of Commerce Republicans, aka crony capitalists.) The last thing the DFL’s shadow organizations want is to deal with people who know how to articulate a principled message.

Loyal readers of LFR have reported that ISAIAH/GRIP was out in force Monday night, too. These organizations portray themselves as religious organizations. That’s fiction. They’re another DFL front organization. In 2010, ISAIAH/GRIP published “three ‘Shining the Light’ reports, co-authored by the Kirwan Institute for Race and Ethnicity.” The Kirwan Institute identifies themselves as dealing with implicit bias. In their own words, implicit bias “affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control. Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness. Rather, implicit biases are not accessible through introspection.”

In other words, one of the organizations attacking Paul Brandmire and Mike Conway think that people possess biases that they’re unaware of and that they can’t control. But I digress.

Conway said Brandmire, by agreeing to be interviewed for the story, was “trying to have an open discussion. All he did was he noticed. You bring in 20,000 people, I don’t care where they are from, you bring them in from anywhere in a short period of time, you are going have people say, ‘Oh, that’s different,'” Conway said. “Paul is not a racist. I’m not a racist. We’re not bigoted. We just are the ones who are saying, ‘Hey, there are some differences going on. We need to find out how to make those things work.'”

The message that ISAIAH/GRIP, TakeAction Minnesota and #UniteCloud want to put out there is that Republicans are racists. The truth is irrelevant to them, which is disgusting. These DFL front organizations aren’t about having a conversation. They’re about shutting down debate.

UPDATE: This is the speaker who called for the resignations:

This is the speaker representing the labor unions:

Let’s be clear about this. The DFL was behind this artificial uprising. This wasn’t happenstance. The DFL doesn’t like Republicans serving anywhere. That’s why this happened.

Now that ‘The Day’ (according to Jerry Nadler) has arrived, it’s time to examine whether Attorney General William Barr should release the Mueller report without redactions or whether parts of the report shouldn’t be seen by Congress or the public. Put differently, should the Attorney General follow the law or should he listen to Chairman Nadler?

That question seems to tie Democrats in knots. Jerry Nadler wants everything released, including Grand Jury testimony, national security sources and methods and information about ongoing investigations. In this report, Manu Raju said that “precedent had been set by the Ken Starr report.” It’s worth noting that the Starr report was governed by a totally different law with different requirements.

The Starr report was required to publish grand jury testimony. The Mueller report was required to keep grand jury testimony out of the report except if a judge ruled that testimony was allowed into the report.

The special counsel law is well written because grand jury testimony is, ultimately, one-sided in favor of the prosecutors. The people testifying aren’t cross-examined. Defense witnesses aren’t usually called, either, to present both sides of the story.

Ultimately, House Judiciary Committee Democrats will be able to point to the witnesses’ testimony. Republicans won’t have anything to point to. Does that sound fair? I don’t think it’s fair. I don’t think it’s even close to fair.

For that reason alone, grand jury testimony shouldn’t be included.

Finally, isn’t it interesting that Rep. Nadler argued against full transparency when the report involved Bill Clinton?

One of the first things out of Nancy Pelosi’s mouth is potentially stupid. In her op-ed, cowritten with Jim McGovern, Pelosi said “In November, the American people went to the polls and sent an unmistakable message to Washington. By a historic 10 million vote margin, they asked for a Congress that would be more transparent, ethical and focused on debating and advancing good ideas no matter where they come from. They asked for a Congress that would prioritize a positive, forward-looking agenda for the people.”

It’s worth remembering that Ms. Pelosi didn’t initiate a review into Keith Ellison’s alleged molestation of Karen Monahan. Further, Ms. Pelosi is the personification of the Swamp, having started serving in Washington, DC, in 1987.

Ms. Pelosi didn’t check into Rep. Ellison’s alleged misdeeds because that might’ve gotten into her way of becoming speaker again. Is that the personification of a person who’s going to clean the swamp? I don’t think so. Then there’s this:

Third, we will restore Congress’ constitutional role recognizing that the legislative branch is Article I, the first branch of government, coequal to and a check and balance on the executive and the judiciary. We will strengthen the representation of all Americans, and expand the voting rights of representatives elected by our more than 4.5 million fellow Americans from Washington, D.C., and the territories.

This is nothing more than the Democrats’ justification for non-stop investigation into President Trump rather than passing legislation that helps people. The truth is that expectations aren’t high that Pelosi’s House will attempt to accomplish much substantively.

During her speech, Ms. Pelosi said that they “would debate good ideas no matter where they came from.” She’s already failed on that count because walls have protected Israelis from terrorists and South Koreans from invading armies. Frankly, Ms. Pelosi lied during her speech because that’s the Democrats’ nature.

The only question left is how long it’ll take before Democrats go too far.

When it comes to talking out of both sides of their mouth, nobody’s better at it than Nancy Pelosi. At the 6:34 mark of this video, Ms. Pelosi said “I don’t think we should have a debate in front of the press on this but the fact is the House Republicans could bring up this bill and pass this bill, if they had the votes, immediately and set the tone” for the debate:

Later in the meeting with President Trump, Ms. Pelosi said “There are no Republican votes for the wall.” Earth to Ms. Pelosi: here’s breaking news for you — the House already passed the bill that includes $5,000,000,000 for President Trump’s wall. Still later, Ms. Pelosi said “We’re coming in here in good faith to negotiate with you to see how we can keep the government open.”

What a pile of BS. What Ms. Pelosi means by “good faith negotiations” is that she expects President Trump to drop his funding for the wall. She and Sen. Schumer accused President Trump of wanting to shut down the government unless he got what he wanted. The Democrats’ position is just as hardline as President Trump’s. The difference is that President Trump highlighted how effective a border wall is. The difference is that Ms. Pelosi rejected President Trump’s verified facts.

In fact, Ms. Pelosi insisted that Israel’s wall wasn’t effective. Seriously?! Any idiot that thinks that the Israelis don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to their security is either stupid or lying. Period. What’s hilarious is when President Trump interjects that “It’s called transparency, Nancy”, then she replies “It isn’t transparency when we don’t agree on a set of facts.”

Actually, whether both sides agree on a set of facts or not, negotiations held in front of the TV cameras is transparency. The root word for transparency is transparent. The definition of transparent is “having the property of transmitting rays of light through its substance so that bodies situated beyond or behind can be distinctly seen.” Other definitions for transparent are “manifest; obvious; open; frank; candid.”

What’s more open or candid than a negotiation held in front of TV cameras? Frankly, Ms. Pelosi appears to want these negotiations to be held behind closed doors so she and Sen. Schumer can come out to the TV cameras and mischaracterize what was said behind closed doors.

Reading ISAIAH’s recent email survey certainly makes me question whether they’ve violated the IRS’s prohibitions on 501(c)(3) organizations with regard to political campaigns. In their email, Laura Johnson, ISAIAH’s Lead Organizer, wrote “As we think about 2020, we want to dig in on the things that work and that make honest connections with voters, and stop doing the ones that people hate or that don’t get people engaged.”

Based on this information, it certainly sounds like they’ve overstepped their boundaries:

Some activities that the IRS has found to violate the prohibition on political campaigning include:

  1. inviting a political candidate to make a campaign speech at an event hosted by the organization
  2. using the organization’s funds to publish materials that support (or oppose) a candidate
  3. donating money from the organization to a political candidate
  4. any statements by the organization’s executive director, in his or her official capacity, that support a candidate
  5. criticizing or supporting a candidate on the organization’s website
  6. inviting one candidate to speak at a well-publicized and well-attended event, and inviting the other candidate to speak at a lesser function
  7. inviting all candidates to speak at an event, but arranging the speaking event or choosing the questions in such a way that it is obvious that the organization favors one candidate over the others
  8. conducting a “get out the vote” telephone drive in a partisan manner by selecting caller responses for further follow-up based on candidate preference, and
  9. using the organization’s website to link to only one candidate’s profile.

“Making connections with voters certainly sounds like they’re “conducting a ‘get out the vote’ drive, doesn’t it? It certainly doesn’t sound like they’re conducting a voter registration drive, which is allowed. This confirms my suspicions:

Indigenous, Black, Hispanic and Muslim Minnesotans Partner in GOTV for Day of Action

This is a picture from ISAIAH’s blog. They aren’t trying to hide the fact that they’re engaging in a GOTV operation. As I highlighted earlier, the IRS has long found that GOTV operations as violating 501(c)(3) rules. I don’t know how a case could be more open-and-shut than that.