Earlier this week United States Attorney Andrew Luger called a press conference to announce federal charges in the massive Feeding Our Future scandal. Luger revealed charges against 48 defendants in six indictments and three criminal informations. Following his excellent presentation, he took questions.
When Luger called on me I observed that the fraud he had documented in his presentation was open and obvious. I inferred from what he said that the Minnesota Department of Education detected the fraud early on. Alluding to paragraphs 33-34 of the indictment of Aimee Bock et al., Luger made this point at about 23:30 of the press conference video (in the post linked above). I asked Luger if he would explain to the average person how the fraud went on for 20 months before it was shut down in January 2022.
Luger said that he was limited to the allegations of the indictments, but he didn’t dispute the premise of my question. In response to another question, however, Luger blamed the perpetrators for the fraud. Even Ray Charles could see that doesn’t cut it and that the authorities owe us a full and true accounting.
Governor Walz and the authorities have sought to divert responsibility for their nonfeasance in the case. They have blamed Ramsey County District Judge John Guthmann for compelling the MDE to keep the fraud flying. To adapt an old political joke, Walz has performed a routine that goes don’t blame MDE, don’t blame me, blame the man behind the tree (or the bench). Walz also blames the Trump Department of Agriculture.
Referring to Judge Guthmann, Walz yammered in his accustomed style at a press conference on Thursday. “I was speechless,” the governor said. “Unbelievable that this ruling would come down, did not really know what to say. Obviously we had to honor it….I wouldn’t have believed in a million years that they were going to rule that way.” Walz opined that an investigation of Judge Guthmann was in order. That triggered Judge Guthmann to authorize release of the statement below yesterday.
NEW: In a rare rebuke, Ramsey County Judge John Guthmann issues a public statement criticizing what he calls false statements by Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota education commissioner about the judge’s rulings in the Feeding Our Future fraud case. pic.twitter.com/yQOzSVPaIO
— Theo Keith (@TheoKeith) September 23, 2022
The Star Tribune story cites the paper’s own earlier reporting: “MDE leaders acknowledged in a May interview with the Star Tribune that, had they required extensive receipts and other paperwork, they may have been able to end the department’s relationship with Feeding Our Future sooner.”
The Star Tribune story also paraphrases Walz: “Walz defended the department Thursday and said he and his team couldn’t speak publicly about the case while the FBI was investigating.”
Walz actually said, “The way the system works is to not say anything.” This will come as a surprise to anyone who has followed Walz’s performance as governor.
MDE is following the script: “The department didn’t claim that any of the reimbursement claims were fraudulent, according to the transcripts [of the hearing]. This week, the department said that, because it was assisting with the federal investigation, the agency couldn’t ‘assert certain defenses’ when Feeding Our Future sued because it didn’t want to tip off the organization about the investigation.”
I have posted Judge Guthmann’s Feeding Our Future Order and accompanying Memorandum at the bottom. The department never appealed it. At the least, the department failed to jump through the hoops necessary to discontinue payments and shut the program down.
Despite his propensity to speak, Walz remained mum. Yesterday MDE issued another evasive statement: “Feeding Our Future demanded that MDE make payments, and the court made it clear that if MDE were to continue the legal fight to withhold payments, MDE would incur sanctions and legal penalties.”
Walz’s lying barely registers with me anymore. The Feeding Our Future fraud lets us see him and his administration in action or, rather, inaction. The guy is a glorified used car salesman of the Joe Isuzu variety.
At his press conference on Thursday following unsealing of the charges, Walz bragged about his performance in the case. Walz stated: “We caught this fraud. We caught it very early. We alerted the right people. We were taken to court. We were sued. We were threatened with going to jail. We stuck with it.”
Walz also said he couldn’t recall precisely when he first learned of the suspicions that Feeding Our Future was running a fraud. Let the investigation begin. What did the governor know and when did he know it (and what did he do about it while the money poured out)?