Controversy is building over the employment status of Carolyn Ham, inspector general of the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS).
She's been on investigative leave for months, and has been drawing an income the whole time. People are wondering why it's taking the state so long, and how much longer taxpayers will be forced to foot the bill.
A Friday report from the Pioneer Press says DHS suspended Ham on March 18 to investigate a complaint against her; nearly four months later, that investigation still hasn't begun, and in all that time, Ham has been paid about $42,000.
In a statement to the paper, Ham said the investigation is due to start on July 23.
Due to privacy laws, the state has not confirmed what the complaint is about.
Ham released a public statement a few days after her suspension in March, saying the allegations against her "are completely without merit" and political in nature:
The statement implies the complaint and subsequent fallout is the work of a "discredited manager with a proven history of providing unsubstantiated information to both state legislators and the media."
The case has gotten the attention of state lawmakers, with state Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, issuing her own statement on Friday.
"If what Ms. Ham says is true, and the investigation has not yet begun," she says, "we deserve answers" from Gov. Tim Walz and DHS commissioner Tony Lourey "immediately":
The revelations came at about the same time two high-ranking DHS officials announced they would be resigning from the department.
The Star Tribune says no reasons were given for the departures, which pose an "early test of the leadership of Lourey... and the new administration of Gov. Tim Walz," who appointed Lourey to the job.
The paper also notes the resignations "come at a challenging time for the agency," which has been under increasing pressure to "rein in spending" and "crack down on fraud in state-licensed programs."
As inspector general of DHS, Ham is in charge of investigating child care fraud in Minnesota.