Digging into Feeding Our Future political donations: The Ellison connections of December 20th

One of the features of the Feeding Our Future scandal from the beginning has been the connections between the alleged fraudsters and well-placed politicians.

This post will focus on a single day, December 20, 2021, and two politicians: Keith Ellison, the current Minnesota Attorney General, and his son, Jeremiah Ellison, currently serving on the Minneapolis City Council.

Some 49 individuals have been charged in the case so far, with the local U.S. Attorney promising more to come.

KARE-11 and other local media outlets have dug into some of the political donations made by figures in the case.

This post will focus on some patterns found in these political donations. In several instances, the donations all arrived on a single day, in the exact same amounts (the maximum amount allowed by law for that particular office).

For those candidates, on those days, donations arrived from a group that include figures indicted in the case, but also include a number of additional individuals, some not previously known to be involved in the Feeding Our Future scandal.

The picture below is a snapshot of a spreadsheet I’m working on. It shows part of list of donors that I have assembled:

I have blocked out the names of donors not among the 49 indicted in the case.

I draw your attention to the last two columns. On December 20, Jeremiah Ellison registered receiving 15 donations that day at the maximum amount of $600 per donor. Of those 15, five were from persons later indicted in the case.

On that same day, his father reported receiving four donations, each in the maximum amount of $2,500 per donor. Two of Keith’s maximum donors that day also gave the maximum to his son, that same day. A third Keith donor that day had previously participated in two other mass donation events.

Coincidentally, December 20 fell exactly one month before the FBI raids in the case.

It turns out that one of Keith’s December 20 donors is a former employee of an organization named in the indictments. On a different date, Keith received a maximum donation from another indicted figure, not listed above, which he reportedly returned. He has also received donations on other dates from individuals connected to the case, but who have not been charged.

Other indicted figures donated to the above candidates on other dates and in other amounts. The above indicted figures and others charged in the case donated to other candidates not listed above.

But on those four dates above, for those five political candidates, a total of 38 donors participated, donating $53,000 in these mass donation events. The frequency of these mass donation events during 2021 suggest some coordination at work.

Some of those donors include individuals married to indicted figures. Others are current or former employees of companies named in the indictments.

Beyond this last group, there is yet another layer of spouses and relatives of indicted or named figures who have given money to other candidates or on other dates.

Every time you peel away a layer of the onion, another layer awaits.

To date, politicians have adopted the practice in the Feeding Our Future case of returning or forwarding donations as figures are named and charged. Based on the preliminary analysis discussed, we’ve only just begun.