Remember the “ Fleecing of America” series that ran for years on “NBC Nightly News” and exposed “alleged” waste of taxpayer money at the hands of government agencies and officials?
A Minnesota re-boot could be in order with all the material that’s available these days. Just a few suggestions:
Feeding our Future scam
We could start “Fleecing Minnesota” with the Feeding our Future scam, where recently charges were filed against 10 more suspects. According to one report:
“At a news conference, U.S. Attorney for the Minnesota District Andrew Luger told reporters 60 people are now charged in the scheme he says siphoned more than $250 million intended to feed underserved children during the pandemic. Of that, Luger says authorities have seized more than $66 million in property, bank accounts, real estate and vehicles, which alone account for $4 million. …
“Luger said like those previously charged, the new defendants used the money siphoned via the scheme to buy property, real estate, and luxury vehicles, and in one case a defendant made a down-payment on an airplane that was delivered to Kenya. Another allegedly bought a laundromat for the purpose of laundering money.”
Couple of things: I wonder how much “more than” $250 million of taxpayer money was stolen under lax government oversight. Also, they really bought a laundromat for the purpose of laundering money? Sounds like something out of Ozark.
Transparency lacking on $500 million renovation
Last December, Democrats approved a plan to spend nearly $500 million on the renovation and expansion of the State Office Building (office space for House members and others across the street from the Capitol). Since then, lawmakers and the public have received few details on this half billion-dollar monument to politicians in St. Paul. However, it is our understanding that the planning process continues behind the scenes with designs and cost estimates exchanged between affected entities on a regular basis.
In other words: Minnesota Democrats want to spend $500 million on luxury offices for politicians in St. Paul and they don’t want you to know about it. I’m demanding answers and we’ll vote to defund this wasteful monument to politicians. I co-signed a letter to legislative leaders asking some questions, such as:
What is the current status and total cost of the SOB renovation and expansion project?
Are the most recent planning, design and cost documents available for public review?
Democrats may already have spent the money to conduct this massive renovation but, with a project of this magnitude and cost to taxpayers, at the very least Minnesotans deserve full transparency.
Light rail boondoggle
A scathing report the Minnesota Legislative Auditor’s office recently released highlighted how the Met Council was not transparent on costs and didn’t hold its construction contractor accountable on the Southwest Light Rail project that is experiencing serious overruns in time and money. From a report:
“The project is a billion dollars over budget – more than double at this point – and has been a concern with lawmakers. It was supposed to be done by 2018 for $1.25 billion, and now it sits at $2.74 billion and is scheduled to be finished in 2027.”
There’s also this little nugget, which you may want to read a couple of times because it’s so unbelievable:
“The audit also states the Metropolitan Council was obligated to spend additional funds on the project for increased costs than what had already been committed because it didn’t have enough money to finish or halt the project.”
Individually, each of these “Fleecing of Minnesota” taxpayers is unacceptable. Together, they represent a systemic problem where a lack of accountability, absent transparency and maybe even willful ignorance have left taxpayer dollars vulnerable.
Legislators and citizens alike must demand answers and deserve better from their government.
Rep. Shane Mekeland (R-Clear Lake) represents Big Lake in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Reach him at (651) 296-2451 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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