The scandal vanishes (Updated)

It’s been nearly a week since the FBI raided the offices of the Minnesota nonprofit Feeding Our Future. Since then, there have been no further developments in the case. Could this Minnesota scandal be headed down the memory hole, like so many other recent ones?

Last week, the FBI made a splash as 200 law enforcement people executed search warrants on Feeding Our Future and many related businesses and charities. Not one person has been arrested or charged with anything. (Updated: this article says that a lawyer for Feeding’s CEO is denying she did anything other than “feed children.”)

Only the community news outlet Sahan Journal appears to still be digging into the story. (Update: Sahan Journal follows the money on campaign donations.) They reported earlier this week on an interesting political connection in the Feeding Our Future case. Jamal Osman, currently representing Ward 6 on the Minneapolis City Council, turns out to have been one of the founders of one of the smaller nonprofits named in the FBI search warrants.

(Update: the Star Tribune reports that Osman and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey met with the state Department of Education during the time period when Feeding Our Future was fighting with the Department over program funding.)

Osman was first elected to the city council in 2020, in an August special election to replace a member moving over to run the city’s housing agency. Osman was re-elected to a full term in November 2021.

As it happens, Osman cut all ties to the nonprofit in question well before any of the events described in the warrants. However, he does appear — along with other local politicians — in a June 2021 video of an event supporting Feeding Our Future’s battle with the state Department of Education. Also attending the event was State Sen. Omar Fateh. (Update: It appears that Feeding Our Future has now dropped their lawsuit against the Department.)

Osman has a connection with another local scandal that seems to have vanished without a trace. Back in 2020, Project Veritas aired a sensational report on ballot harvesting in the 2020 election in Minneapolis. Part of the report featured video of Osman’s brother, Liban Mohamed Osman, boasting of having 300 absentee ballots in his car.

For his part, Liban denied any wrongdoing, said he exaggerated, claimed the video was selectively edited and accused Project Veritas of attempted bribery. Despite talk of a city police investigation, nothing appears to have come of Project Veritas’ report. One, perhaps completely unrelated, federal indictment for perjury was handed down in November 2021.

In a bizarre twist, Liban Mohamed was injured in September 2021, the victim of a street stabbing in Minneapolis, becoming a statistic in the city’s surging crime rate.

The Feeding Our Future scandal bears the marks of another scandal that vanished without a trace: one involving Minnesota child-care providers. Sensational headlines of $100 million in fraud and suitcases of cash leaving the country emerged in early 2018. Like the free meal program, the child-care scandal involved a state agency reimbursing private entities for providing free child care to low-income families.

An audit conducted by the state legislature could not corroborate the $100 million figure or the suitcases story. The audit report, issued in March 2019, did find weaknesses in program oversight and proven cases of fraud ranging in the $5 million to $6 million range. After that, the story seems to have disappeared.

In an example of how long it takes such cases to develop, an investigation into one Minneapolis child center, Ummah Child Care Services, began in 2013. Search warrants were executed in 2015, but guilty pleas were not obtained until early 2017.

Here’s hoping that the latest scandal doesn’t vanish without reaching a conclusion. The wheels of justice may grind slowly, but it’s nice to know they’re still grinding.