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Ramsey County commissioner resigns after review finds conflict of interest

Blake Huffman ran into difficulties with his housing nonprofit.
Blake Huffman

A Ramsey County commissioner has tendered his resignation after a review found an conflict of interest relating to his nonprofit.

Blake Huffman confirmed his resignation to the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners in an email earlier this week, saying he will step down effective June 1.

It follows "mistakes" he made at Journey Home, the nonprofit he founded in 2008 to provide houses for veterans and families in need, but which dissolved in March.

A review by Ramsey County found that as the nonprofit struggled financially, Huffman hired his son as a real estate agent to sell a property in New Brighton to his other son, without approval from the County Board.

The New Brighton home had been purchased by the nonprofit using federal money. In selling them in the manner that he did, the county found it violated Huffman's Housing and Redevelopment Authority agreement with Ramsey County, and constituted an "improper conflict of interest."

The Star Tribune notes he also engaged his son – who earned commission on the sales – to sell another property in White Bear Lake.

In a note sent to his fellow board members, which has been obtained by BMTN, Blake Huffman wrote that he would be leaving his current role and retiring from politics.

"The county has recently completed a review of Journey Home Minnesota’s interaction with the County’s HRA. During this review two mistakes were identified, failing to document income for one family and using a relative as a realtor.

"Although I no longer have an official role with Journey Home, I was in charge when these mistakes were made and I take accountability for them.

"I have enjoyed the tremendous progress the county has made in my 6+ years in this role and wish for the best for all involved at the county."

It was reported by the Pioneer Press earlier this year that Huffman's nonprofit owed $9,000 in taxes and faced liens of $162,000 for unpaid labor and materials, and was also the subject of at least three complaints made to the Attorney General's office.

Huffman represents District 1 in Ramsey County, covering Arden Hills, Gem Lake, North Oaks, Shoreview, Vadnais Heights, White Bear Township and parts of Mounds View, Spring Lake Park and Blaine. He was elected in 2012.

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