The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources violated state law and inappropriately spent nearly $300,000 to host three days of training and amusements for U.S. and Canadian game wardens last year, the state Legislative Auditor said today.$300,000; what's the big deal? Just raise new taxes somewhere else.
The auditor's report said the department "did not control fund-raising activities or ensure compliance with state law and department policy" and it said the DNR commissioner's office authorized a fund-raising letter that violated state law against soliciting money by state employees.C'mon, it's not like conservation officers in uniform personally solicited donations.
The auditors also found that conservation officers in uniform personally solicited donations(!) The auditors concluded that most of the $388,000 in state spending on the three-day conference was "inappropriate." For example, the department paid the admission fee not only for conservation officers who attended the conference, but also for other DNR staff members and spouses who worked as conference staff.Uh, WHOOPS!
"Although the conference brochure stated that the fee for conservation officers was $175, the department actually paid $260 for each of its 205 officers," providing two outside groups with $17,425 in extra money, the report said.How are they going to tell us how many walleye are left if they can't count?
"We didn't find malicious intent on the part of individuals. It was really more of an organizational failure," Nobles said in an interview.That doesn't make me any less furious.
The report also said the department inappropriately spent money on travel by state employees to Arizona and Quebec to plan for the conference.Hell, just fly to Paris for few weeks while you're at it. Ever notice government folks travelling on our dime never go to shitty places like Detroit or Newark?
Three DNR employees, who are current or former officers of the union, refused to be interviewed under oath, citing their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, Nobles said.What? Union stooges hiding the facts from the people that they purport to serve? I'm shocked - SHOCKED I tell you.
Nobles said the money for the conference largely came out of the DNR's fish and game fund, which gets its income from hunting and fishing licenses. Holsten said the department reimbursed that fund from other DNR monies shortly after the initial news report.All that money shuffling around - It's like a Three-card Monte game.
Col. Mike Hamm, head of the enforcement division, and his wife, Capt. Cathy Hamm, a manager in the division who played a key role in planning the event, have been on paid administrative leave since May.I'm actually pretty surprised to see any names named. Usually there's some counter intuitive data privacy cloak whipped into place whenever state employees misuse public money.
Go get 'em, Mr. Audit Guy.