How deep is the rot at the MN Dept. of Human Services?

Yesterday, a Twitter (X) account caught my eye, going by the handle of Minnesota Department of Human Services Employees, @Minnesota_DHS. It only has 34 followers, but makes the following claim in its profile,

We are 193 current staff members of the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) with pride & commitment towards our work with goals of public transparency.

I have no way to independently verify that claim. The current version of the Twitter account dates from April 2023 and the account has posted 242 times since then. Here is a screenshot of the pinned post,

What caught my attention about this account are a continuing series of posts tagging different members of the MN media that all have the same line,

Please help we DHS employees expose fraud, waste, & abuse at our agency. We are current employees of the Minnesota DHS.

The account’s most recent post is a re-tweet of this article by Deena Winter of MN Reformer. The alleged employees write,

“Man indicted in Feeding Our Future fraud has been paid $49 million by DHS since 2016.” Their company license is still active on our websites. Is DHS still paying Feeding Our Future defendants? Probably & our leadership does nothing to stop it.

Winter writes in MN Reformer about one of the newest Feeding Our Future indictees, Defendant No. 69, who continues to operate a personal care attendant (PCA) business taking in about $8 million/year out of DHS.

DHS, by some measures, is the state’s largest agency in terms of spending taxpayer dollars. About a year ago, we asked a provocative question in our quarterly Thinking Minnesota public opinion poll: “What percentage of state spending is wasteful?” The average answer we received was a whopping 34 percent. Perhaps even this eye-catching figure is an understatement.

Back in August 2023, Winter wrote about other Feeding Our Future/DHS connections,

About half of the people charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with stealing hundreds of millions from a federal program to feed children during the pandemic have been paid tens of millions more in state money for services such as providing child care and assisting seniors and people with disabilities. 

Half. In her August report, Winter added that the U.S. Attorney prosecuting the Feeding Our Future fraud was reportedly looking into “adult day care issues.”

Rereading Winter’s August report I was drawn to her coverage of Defendant No. 34, Sharmarke Issa. You will recall Issa making headlines when he was first indicted in September 2022 in the Feeding scandal as he had been recently re-appointed by Mayor Jacob Frey to chair the city’s Housing board. Issa was appointed to run the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority even though he was a resident of nearby Edina.

The U.S. Attorney alleges that Issa took $7.4 million out of the free-food programs through a restaurant Issa owns and a nonprofit Issa founded in May 2020.

Winter reported that Issa also owned SM Adult Day Services, Inc., an outfit licensed and funded by DHS. From fiscal years 2020 through 2022, Issa’s facility took in over $1 million from DHS, government records confirm.

SM Adult Day continues to operate under the same name and at the same south Minneapolis location. However, in 2022, it was re-incorporated as SM Adult Day Services LLC, (presumably under new management and ownership?).

Since SM’s reorganization as an LLC, the facility has received $335,000 in DHS funding. However, DHS issued the facility a correction order in September 2023.

Back in 2020, when it was still run by Issa under SM Inc., the facility was separately enrolled in the free-food program under Feeding Our Future with a capacity to feed its maximum DHS authorized population of 85 clients

Issa was indicted along with another Mayoral employee, Defendant No. 6, Abdi Salah. Allegedly, Salah and Issa purchased a rental property together with alleged Feeding Our Future proceeds.

As for Mayor Frey, the media has reported that–not only did he hire two of the Defendants– he accepted a total of $9,000 in campaign donations in 2021 from nine future defendants, including Salah.

Looking back at 2020, Frey accepted a $250 donation from Issa, and another $250 donation from Defendant No. 35, another alleged Issa collaborator.

On that same day in 2020, Frey received an additional $1,250 from donors with the last name Issa and another $250 from Salah’s spouse at the time. Three of the Issa’s listed SM Adult Day Care as their employer.

The wheel goes round and round.