What Did He Know, and When Did He Know It?

I hope our readers will indulge the attention we have paid to the Feeding Our Future scandal here in Minnesota. The issue has, I think, national significance as it is the biggest single fraud that has so far been uncovered in connection with the trillions of dollars that the federal government shoveled out the door, ostensibly as “covid relief.” The scandal–$250 million stolen, and counting–reminds us of one of the basic tenets of conservatism: the government will never spend your money as carefully as you do.

In attempting to deflect responsibility for the fiasco, Minnesota’s Governor Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison have tried one dodge after another. They have claimed that a judge ordered them to continue paying Freedom Our Future in April 2021–implying that they knew, by then, that the whole operation was a fraud–but that was a lie. (For an in-depth discussion of the scandal, go here.) They have also said that they knew about the fraud, but kept quiet because the FBI asked them not to stop it, as they paid out hundreds of millions in stolen money. This is obviously ridiculous.

Walz and Ellison have suggested that they knew a massive fraud was being perpetrated, but couldn’t do anything about it–first because a judge ordered them not to, and then because the FBI asked them not to. That raises an obvious question: when, exactly, did Governor Tim Walz find out that hundreds of millions of dollars were being stolen from the Minnesota Department of Education? It turns out that this is a question Walz can’t answer.

The Minnesota Reformer is a far-left online news outlet, but (unlike the Star Tribune, for example) its fealty to the Democratic Party is not absolute. So the Reformer asked Governor Walz, when did you find out that Feeding Our Future was a fraud? Good question!

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz found out about suspicious activity in a child food aid program — now the subject of a massive federal law enforcement dragnet — around the time that local nonprofit Feeding Our Future sued the state Department of Education in November 2020, his office told the Reformer Friday.

But that was answer number three. Answer number one:

In an interview with the Reformer on Thursday, Walz said he was verbally briefed about suspicious activity in the program in late April or early May of 2020 — “very early in the program,” Walz said.

Answer number two:

A spokesperson for the governor later told the Reformer that Walz misspoke and he found out when MDE alerted federal authorities. MDE first reached out to officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture with concerns about the nonprofit’s rapid growth in the summer of 2020.

Answer number three:

The spokesperson then followed up again to clarify that Walz found out after Feeding Our Future filed a lawsuit in November 2020.

At this point, Walz is obviously just making stuff up. But his various answers to the question, if we take them seriously, mean that a large majority of the $250 million-and-counting theft occurred after Governor Walz knew it was going on. If he had spoken up–given a press conference, told what he knew, called for an investigation, whatever–the fraud would have come to a screeching halt. But by his own admission, Walz sat on that knowledge while many millions went out the door.

American Experiment’s Bill Glahn, the leading expert on the Feeding Our Future fraud, writes:

[T]here is a minimum six-month period (November 2020 to April 2021) during which Gov. Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison knew about the fraud, were not constrained by any judge’s ruling or FBI investigation, and chose to keep the money flowing. At any time during that period, the state could have cried “fraud” or acted unilaterally.

During that interval, Feeding Our Future was invoicing the state about $20 million per month.

The system didn’t fail. The state’s highest elected officials failed.

And that count gives Walz and Ellison much more of the benefit of the doubt than they deserve. Amazingly enough, both Walz and Ellison are running for re-election rather than resigning in disgrace.

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