Senate Republicans seek answers on DHS management issues

Today, Senator Michelle Benson, Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, and Senator Julie Rosen, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, released several letters outlining data requests to Pam Wheelock, Acting Commissioner of the Department of Human Services and Myron Franz, Commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget.

Specifically, the requests are for any written and/or electronic communications between former Commissioner Tony Lourey, Deputy Commissioner Charles Johnson, Deputy Commissioner Claire Wilson, former Chief of Staff Stacie Weeks, and/or Assistant Commissioner Maire Zimmerman, and communications related to an outside firm that did work on work culture issues at DHS in 2016. The third request was submitted from both Benson and Rosen for the names of lead investigators from DHS and MMB in the Carolyn Hamm investigation, the date the investigation began, and any communications related to the investigation. 

“Minnesotans have a right to an open and transparent government; a government that is easily accessible is also accountable to the people,” said Benson. “The flurry of resignations, appointments, and rescinded resignations has raised significant concerns from my office, from the press, and from the one million people served by DHS. We are expecting full cooperation from DHS and MMB to provide these documents quickly. If cultural issues have been a concern for DHS since 2016 and a poor work culture contributed to the resignations of staff or fraudulent payments being made, Minnesotans deserve to know what the problem is and how it’s being managed.”

“We have a lot of questions about what is going on with DHS and MMB,” said Rosen. “This shouldn’t be complicated. The public deserves to know when the investigation into Carolyn Ham began, who is in charge of it, and what has been determined. It’s been four months since Ham was placed on leave – at full pay—and we’ve heard nothing officially about the status or progress of the investigation. I expect both DHS and MMB to be fully compliant and swift in their response to our request.”

The letters were sent to the agency commissioners on Friday, July 18th. Additional calls for transparency have been made by several media outlets including the Star Tribune, the Duluth News Tribune, and the Mankato Free Press.

Letters to MMB and DHS: