MN01 : Questions of Incompetency Trump Waste, Fraud and Abuse Allegations Against Jim Hagedorn

Meme courtesy of Abe Sauer

Considering that on January 23, 2016, candidate Donald J. Trump said  “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” and won his election, will questions of fraud, waste and abuse result in Jim Hagedorn losing any of his voters ?

The Minnesota Reformer is out with an interesting headline – Congressman spent tax dollars on vendor owned by a member of his staff. (Read it here https://minnesotareformer.com/2020/08/15/congressman-spent-tax-dollars-on-vendor-owned-by-a-member-of-his-staff/ )

The story reveals some questionable spending by Minnesota’s First District (and first term) Congressman Jim Hagedorn.  The story provides some details to questions raised in prior MN Political Roundtable commentaries — January 27 noting that in the July 1 – September 30, 2019 reporting period, Congressman Hagedorn sent out 60,659 pieces of mass mailings at a taxpayer cost of $21,669.59

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And a February 6 commentary noted that on September 4, 2019 Congressman Hagedorn paid $41,088.00 to INVOCQ TECHNOLOGIES LLC for printing and reproductions (read more

And a March 2 commentary, asking the question What would you do with $210,668.38 ?

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The Minnesota Reformer analysis shows that INVOCQ TECHNOLOGIES is owned by John Brevard Sample, who also was employed as a “part-time employee” of Congressman Hagedorn earning $45,000 taxpayer dollars.  The analysis also raises questions about another company Abernathy West LLC who failed to respond to questions about it’s relationship with Congressman Hagedorn.

These types of stories are not new … just look at former Iowa Congressman Rod Blum whom the nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics said it had “substantial reason to believe” that Blum misused House resources to support his company, Tin Moon Corp.; held back information about his financial stake; and allowed the business to engage in an “unfair or deceptive trade practice” to solicit business.  The Ethics review was not completed until December 17, 2018 … long after Blum, a Republican, had lost his re-election bid.  The Trump Adminsitration seems to be regularly questioned about employee arrangements — i.e. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy investments in XPO Logistics; Operation Warp Speeds’ Chief Adviser Moncef Slaoui investments, and so many more.

Actually, when you read the Minnesota Reformer story, it becomes quite clear that proving fraud is quite difficult … and questions of waste and abuse can be mitigated by what is done by other Members.

The argument could be made that Invocq Technologies and Abernathy West provided services at a competitive rate (or maybe even a lower price).  Further, Congressman Hagedorn is claiming that he did not know of these questionable relationships until a few months ago, proclaiming that he had delegated these details “to my former Chief of Staff and our finance officer”.

That’s the statement that should be most concerning to the taxpayers.  Congressman Hagedorn may have delegated “who” got the contracts, but he does not object to the frequency of these mailings (22 in the first three months of 2020), nor question where these mailings were printed (although it does state “Minnesota”).

Referring to the March 2 commentary :

Is it “fair to the taxpayers” to take tax monies to make so many mass mailings ?

So, to be “fair” to Congressman Hagedorn, as a comparison, let’s consider the other Members of the Minnesota delegation:

Printing and Reproductions spending for 2019
MN01 $210,668.38 Jim Hagedorn
MN02 $ 3,971.12 Angie Craig
MN03 $ 6,996.65 Dean Phillips
MN04 $ 2,062.15 Betty McCollum
MN05 $ 5,251.69 Ilhan Omar
MN06 $ 4,945.17 Tom Emmer
MN07 $ 592.51 Collin Peterson
MN08 $ 96,185.24 Pete Stauber

That’s the alarm bell … why does Congressman Hagedorn think that he needs to spend $200,000 more than six other Members of the Minnesota delegation ? 

Didn’t at any time, Congressman Hagedorn review his spending ?

Didn’t at any time, Congressman Hagedorn ask his Chief of Staff can I visit the Minnesota facility that is printing all these mailings and thank the workers for their efforts ?

When Congressman Hagedorn fired his chief of staff, Peter Su, over concerns about “irregular spending,” should he have informed the taxpayers what the spending was ? Are the two companies mentioned, the only questionable spending (will anyone review payments for mileage which appears quite high) ? Why did it take “approximately two months” for Congressman Hagedorn to reach a conclusion that something needed to be done. Will Congressman Hagedorn seek reimbursement for the taxpayers for these “irregular spending” items (FYI Members of Congress are responsible for any spending over their MRA and since these items have been deemed “irregular spending“, why are we stuck with the payment?)

What is the responsibility of the Congressman to disclose these facts ?

It’s a question of Congressman Hagedorn’s competency that voters will need to answer on November 3rd … do they buy the Hagedorn Hype of being a fiscal conservative ?

Maybe now we know that when Congressman Hagedorn says “People should fend for themselves”, we know that Friends of Hagedorn are fending quite well.