January 13, 2011; Source: Star Tribune | According to the Minnesota Legislative Auditor, the head of the Minnesota Opportunities Industrialization Centers State Council misspent some $20,000 in state grant funds for golf tournament fees, gifts, car washes for the executive director's personal car, and travel to a native rights forum at the United Nations in New York City – all apparently disconnected to the work of the organization.
The executive director responded that the misspent money constituted only a small part of the organization's state grant funds, the board had approved the questionable expenditures, the golf fees were for a get-out-the-vote tournament, and the gifts were to show out-of-state visitors "Minnesota Nice."
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He acknowledged that the trip to New York was really connected to another of his nonprofits, the International Indian Treaty Council, but he said that the UN meeting included discussion of "international labor and jobs training that justified the use of grant money," as the Star Tribune article linked to above put it. The state auditors seem unimpressed with the explanations.
Somehow, the explanations seem like rationalizations – a little facile and a little unconvincing. The dollar amounts might be inconsequential, but that doesn't excuse misspent funds and ex post facto defenses.—Rick Cohen