GOP A.G. candidate wants nonprofit probe

The recent financial mismanagement allegations against a Minneapolis nonprofit are now an issue in the Minnesota Attorney General race.

State Sen. Scott Newman of Hutchinson, the Republican candidate, called on incumbent DFL Attorney General Lori Swanson today to immediately launch an investigation of Community Action of Minneapolis.

An audit by the Department of Human Services (DHS) found that leaders of Community Action of Minneapolis spent more than $800,000 in taxpayer money on trips and personal expenses.

Newman said in a news release that the spending is clearly an abuse of the group’s nonprofit status.

“Taxpayer money that should have been used to help the needy in Minneapolis has been used to provide luxurious vacations, spa treatments, and cars to leaders and board members of this organization,” Newman said. “It is the statutory duty of the attorney general to oversee and investigate suspicious activities of nonprofit organizations in our state. It is further the duty of the attorney general to prosecute when appropriate.”

Newman also questioned why Swanson has not already started an investigation or commented on the audit findings.

Ben Wogsland, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, said reviews of Community Action of Minneapolis are already underway by DHS and the Department of Commerce. He said that process needs to play out.

"We're monitoring the situation, and we're awaiting the findings and potential enforcement determinations of the investigating agencies that are in place," Wogsland said.

Newman has taken aim at nonprofits before. He introduced legislation in 2011 to prohibit state grants to nonprofit groups, if those groups provide goods or services available through a state agency or private business. There was no action on the bill.

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