Senate GOP files new ethics complaint against Hayden

Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, announced he's filing a second ethics complaint against Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis. Tom Scheck | MPR News

Republicans in the Minnesota Senate are filing a second ethics complaint against a DFL senator who was a board member of a controversial nonprofit.

Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, says Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, lied under oath about his knowledge of the problems at Community Action of Minneapolis.

Hann also alleges Hayden lied when he told the Ethics Committee that he never personally benefited from the nonprofit. Records show Community Action of Minneapolis purchased airline tickets for Hayden and his wife to travel to New York City in 2012.

Hann said there's more than enough evidence for the Ethics Committee to investigate Hayden.

"I do know as a senator that it is not proper to lie to the Ethics Committee under oath," Hann said. "That is not proper, that is wrong. That is an ethical lapse. That should not be permitted under our rules and someone who does that ought to be held accountable."

Hann cited reports by MPR News and the Star Tribune that found Hayden's involvement as a board member at Community Action was bigger than he initially suggested.

Hayden did not return calls seeking comment. He released a statement saying he thinks the complaint is unsubstantiated and politically motivated.

“While I am disappointed that Sen. Hann decided to continue his unfounded personal attacks, I will not allow it to distract me from my duty to represent my constituents and to help build a better and stronger Minnesota,” Hayden said.

The Senate Ethics Committee has previously declined to investigate Hayden's involvement with Community Action because the state is currently investigating the nonprofit. Hann said the complaint will be filed on Monday. The Ethics Committee then has to hold a hearing within thirty days of the filing.

Hayden served as a board member of Community Action of Minneapolis in 2008. He appointed his wife as his proxy to the board when he was elected to the Minnesota Senate in 2009. He later resigned as a board member after problems with the agency first surfaced in September.

The state shut down Community Action of Minneapolis in September after a state audit found that CEO Bill Davis spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money on travel, golf and other perks.

A court-appointed receiver also revealed in court documents last month that the FBI, the IRS and the Minnesota Commerce Department are also investigating Community Action of Minneapolis. The records also show the receiver said there have been several other problems that need investigating. They include:

  • Paying the personal credit card bills of friends of senior management

  • Close friends of senior management being paid as contractors without substantiating their work

  • Senior management using CAM funds to pay for the medical bills and personal expenses of friends who were non-CAM employees

  • Excessive gift-giving to board members

  • Senior management using CAM staff to perform work for outside interests and/or businesses of senior managers

  • Diversion of CAM money in the form of "wages" to family members and close friends of senior management who performed no/minimal work or services for the money received

Court documents show Davis hired former Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner to represent him as the investigation moves forward. A Ramsey County District Court judge ordered Davis to meet with the receiver later this month. The receiver said he wants to more information on Davis' role as CEO of Community Action and how much taxpayer money he spent on himself.

Community Action of Minneapolis had provided energy assistance and career counseling to low-income people since 1994. Davis has been a fixture in state Democratic politics. Several prominent DFL politicians or their proxies sat on Community Action's board.

Much of the board resigned after the DHS audit went public. State agencies rescinded their grants and found other organizations to provide home weatherization and energy assistance to low-income residents of Minneapolis.

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