Keith Ellison sues free-food nonprofit ThinkTechAct. Too little, too late?

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has sued an Edina-based nonprofit associated with Feeding Our Future.

He filed the lawsuit yesterday in Hennepin County.

The nonprofit was located at a co-working facility in Southdale Mall. I visited the location this past summer:

ThinkTechAct Foundation, also d/b/a Mind Foundry, was founded in 2016 and is still showing as an active corporation, according to the MN Secretary of State. Records on file at the IRS indicate that the nonprofit’s tax-exempt status was suspended for a year between 2020 and 2021. There have been no tax returns posted for the organization since 2016.

The Attorney General notes that there is a second, related, for-profit entity also using the Mind Foundry name.

The ThinkTechAct operation was the subject of the third search warrant and the indictment covering the Empire Cuisine defendants in the case.

ThinkTechAct/Mind Foundry hosted two dozen free-food distribution sites. Mind Foundry still has unpaid invoices pending at the state Department of Education. Five Mind Foundry sites are seeking reinstatement to the program under the Partners in Nutrition banner.

Ellison is suing the nonprofit and three individuals. Two individuals are defendants Nos. 17 and 15, respectively, in the case. The third individual has not been named in any indictment.

Mahad Ibrahim is the founder of ThinkTechAct and now lives in Ohio. Abdiaziz Farah is a co-owner of Empire Cuisine and has also been charged with passport fraud. He was released from Federal custody late last month.

The third defendant in the lawsuit, Bianca Scott, was listed as ThinkTechAct’s executive director. She is not listed as a defendant in any case in Federal court. Nonetheless, the Attorney General accuses Scott of directly benefitting from the scheme (p. 15, paragraph 57 and p. 19, paragraphs 88 to 90).

The Attorney General reports that ThinkTechAct filed paperwork in 2021 listing a three-man board of directors. Two of those individuals were unaware they had been named to the board.

The Attorney General mentions that ThinkTechAct received $55,000 from Success Academy in 2021 (p. 21, paragraph 101). This is an apparent reference to a Bloomington charter school, that operated a separate and unrelated free-food distribution site at the same address as the main ThinkTechAct site.

The Attorney General is seeking to have the nonprofit dissolved, and the three individuals banned from operating nonprofits in Minnesota.

It’s not clear why Ellison is targeting this nonprofit, as dozens of other nonprofits were named in the many Federal indictments in the case. There are likely to be hundreds of others also involved.

It’s also not clear why he filed the lawsuit now, when the facts of the case have been public for almost a year. Ellison was sworn in earlier this month for his second term as attorney general.

Ellison and his city-council-member son took thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from figures linked to the scandal.