Hayden responds to audit allegations

A state lawmaker under scrutiny for his relationship with a Minneapolis nonprofit issued a statement today claiming no knowledge of alleged financial irregularities there.

Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, has a seat on the board of Community Action Minneapolis. His wife Terri serves on the board as his designee.

In a written statement, Hayden said a recent Department of Human Services audit of Community Action Minneapolis shows “alarming” details and an “inexcusable misuse of public funds” by the nonprofit’s CEO, Bill Davis.

“If these findings are shown to be true, Mr. Davis should resign and allow Community Action to move forward under new leadership,” Hayden said.

Hayden said his wife took her board responsibilities very seriously but “was not aware of any of the questionable spending detailed in the audit.”

Some of that questionable spending detailed in the highly critical audit was on non-business travel by the CEO, friends, unnamed board members and their spouses. The list included trips to the Bahamas, golfing in Florida and a celebrity cruise.

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Hayden said he and his wife attended annual board retreats at a resort near Alexandria, Minnesota, but only his wife’s expenses were covered by Community Action. He said he paid his own way.

“To be clear, neither Terri nor I accepted compensation for any cruises, spas, vacations to the Bahamas, or any other inappropriate, non-board activities,” he said.

Hayden was scheduled to appear at a morning news conference on an unrelated property tax report, but he did not attend.

Meanwhile Republicans in the Minnesota Senate have announced plans to file an ethics complaint against  Hayden for “using his elected office for personal gain.”

Senate GOP leaders scheduled a news conference tomorrow morning to detail the complaint.

Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie,

was not immediately available for comment.

would not get into specifics. But he said members of his caucus have concerns about Hayden.

“We’ve been doing some investigation as best we can, and we have concluded that there is probably – we believe there’s a justifiable issue here that the ethics committee needs to deal with,” Hann said.

Here's the audit: