Pressure on Rep. Jim Hagedorn rises as DFL calls for ethics probe

Hagedorn spent tax dollars on mailings from a company owned by one of his staffers.
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Minnesota Congressman Jim Hagedorn is under increasing pressure after it emerged his office used tax dollars to partner with a business owned by one of his staff members.

DFL party leaders denounced Hagedorn’s recent campaign spending Wednesday alongside a government ethics expert. The 1st District Congressman, who was among the highest spenders in the U.S. House in the first quarter of the year, spent $100,000 on a Texas-based company Invocq to do some of the printing for his campaign mailings. First reported by the Minnesota Reformer, the company is part-owned by Hagedorn staffer John Sample.

“What Hagedorn has done with his franking privilege is hired Invocq technologies, a company partially owned by a staff member in Hagedorn’s office,” said Craig Holman, an expert in government ethics with Public Citizen, in a DFL release. 

“That is a clear violation of congressional rules and this is clearly on the agenda of the House Ethics Committee. At the very least, I would expect Hagedorn to reimburse the federal treasury for whatever spending was in violation of the rules.”

Hagedorn spent nearly 40% of his office’s annual budget in the first quarter of 2020, making him one of the top spenders in all of the House. On top of that, 19% of that money went toward campaign mailings, which congressional tracker LegiStrom noted was the highest by far of any member.

After the spending came to light, Hagedorn fired his chief of staff Peter Su. Hagedorn told the Daily Caller he took immediate actions after learning of the issue in June. He also said he will stay within his $1.4 million office budget for the year, and that the mailings were approved by the House Administration Committee.

Hagedorn claimed he had fully delegated responsibilities of the mailings to Su. But emails obtained by the Star Tribune show Hagedorn was involved with mailing decisions in 2019 and early 2020.

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“The corruption in Congressman Hagedorn’s office is staggering,” said DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin in the release. “Hagedorn has used our tax dollars to prop up his failing campaign and lied about it, broken House ethics rules by using our tax dollars to line the pockets of one of his staff, and there are still so many unanswered questions.

The DFL party is also calling for the House Ethics Committee to investigate the spending, but questioned if Hagedorn already was being investigated. The party is also asking for information about how Invocq became involved with the mailings and Su’s firing. 

Hagedorn represents much of southern Minnesota in the House. Elected in 2018, he faces DFL challenger Dan Feehan in November. 

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