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Former DOC deputy commissioner 'sets the record straight' after complaints

She was alleged to have used her position to lobby for funding for her husband's organization.
Sarah Walker DOC

Sarah Walker has issued a statement in response to complaints made against her while she was a deputy commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

Walker, who recently resigned from her role, was accused of using her position to lobby for $500,000 of state funding for a veterans group run by her husband, as well as allegedly outing a sexual assault victim who worked at the department.

Details of the complaints against her were released earlier this week through data access requests to the DOC.

But in a statement posted to her Twitter page on Tuesday, Walker said the "narrative" concerning her work at the DOC "has become untethered to the facts," leaving her "compelled to set the record straight."

Criticized in her statement is Minnesota State Rep. John Lesch, who made DOC Commissioner Paul Schnell aware of an anonymous letter he'd received about Walker's alleged lobbying activities involving the Veterans Defense Project, of which her husband is president.

Rep. Lesch himself admitted to Schnell that Walker was allegedly involved in an effort to support another candidate to run for his seat, leading Walker in her statement to accuse Lesch of political motives in raising the complaint.

"Sadly, this is not the first time, since a falling out between us over his failed campaign for Attorney General, that he has brazenly attacked my integrity," she wrote.

Here's Walker's statement:

With regards to her alleged lobbying on DOC time, she said she'd lobbied on a pro-bono basis before being appointed at the DOC, and the $500,000 in grants that were awarded to the VDP was something backed by Gov. Tim Walz and DOC Commissioner Schnell.

The DOC documents released this week shows that a document written by her husband, Brockton Walker, relating to a state funding bill had been edited on Walker's work computer on more than one occasion. 

But Walker said the bill had long been in the offing before she arrived, writing: "The DOC complaint suggested I lobbied on state time for a probation cap bill. This insinuation is baffling. 

"The probation cap bill was supported both by the MN DOC and the Walz Administration. Commissioner Schnell testified on behalf of the bill on more than one occasion.

"The House DFL invited me to participate in a press conference in support of this legislation. The DOC communications department accompanied me to the press conference. Prior to my appointment, the DOC had been actively engaged in the conversations and negotiations related to the bill."

The bill in question, which was proposed by the VDP, created a restorative justice program for veterans charged with certain crimes, offering alternative punishment for infractions that may have been committed due to service-linked PTSD and substance abuse. 

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As for the allegation that she divulged the name of a DOC employee who had been sexually assaulted by another worker to the media, Walker says that the assault and the victim's identity were "well known among the victims' rights advocacy community," and she was aware of it before taking up her role at the DOC, and that Commissioner Schnell had shared her identity before she was appointed.

She claims that the complaint against her paints a picture through "selective redaction," but says she can't reveal more without the consent of the victim.

"I would like to reiterate that I left the MN DOC on my own volition, and was unaware of the nature or origin of these complaints until after my departure," she added.

"This has been an extremely difficult time for me and my family," she concludes. "The most painful part of this experience is the impact it is having on my husband's life mission of supporting veterans involved in the criminal justice system."

"I have never, in any way, attempted to hide or conceal my support of his mission. For those who want to participate in the politics of destruction. Come at me."

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