ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Republicans today blamed DFL state leaders for failing to prevent the country's largest COVID-19 fraud case.
As of Monday, the Justice Department has charged 49 suspects in what it called a $250 million scheme to steal money meant to feed children
The FBI confirmed Monday that the 49th person to be charged is named Mohamed Noor. He is said to have booked a flight to Istanbul that was supposed to leave Monday morning, but agents arrested him at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.
The aftermath of the scandal has seen the GOP call for more investigations, and demands for at least one resignation.
"Why did the attorney general's office take no significant steps to investigate Feeding Our Future when there was clear evidence of wrongdoing years ago?" Jim Schultz asked.
Schultz is the Republican candidate for attorney general, and his call for more inquiry were followed Monday by the GOP ticket's nominees for state auditor and governor.
"I think the following questions have to be asked: What did Gov. Walz know? When did he learn what he knew?" Dr. Scott Jensen asked.
Republicans say Walz and his fellow Democrats deserve the blame for failing to stop the theft of the funds meant to feed hungry children. Federal prosecutors say instead, the staff of nonprofit Feeding Our Future purchased luxury homes and automobiles.
Gov. Tim Walz addressed the controversy Friday, saying the state did notify the FBI last year of their suspicions.
"I and my team have not been able to say anything because the FBI was in an active investigation, and we were told not to," Walz said.
Walz said Ramsey County Judge John Guthman warned the state would be in contempt and incur penalties if they did not continue payments.
"We had a state agency who in all probability knew this was going on and stopping payment, and the courts forced us to go back and pay it again," Walz said.
Guthman says he never ordered the state to continue payments to Feeding Our Future.
Later Monday afternoon, Attorney General Keith Elllison released a statement saying it was his office, along with the Minnesota Department of Education, that first discovered the fraud and contacted and worked with the FBI investigation .
Look for the finger-pointing over this massive fraud to continue to escalate as the Nov. 8 election draws closer.
Jensen and Republican Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller have both called for the resignation of Heather Mueller. She is the education commissioner, and her department was responsible for oversight of Feeding Our Future's meal distributions.
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