Minnesota taxpayers have paid Inspector General Carolyn Ham, Minnesota’s top investigator of child-care fraud, $42,000 since being put on leave in March, according to the Pioneer Press.
Ham started her “investigative leave” four months ago when Minnesota’s Department of Human Services (DHS) began an investigation after a complaint was filed against her. In March, a report from Minnesota’s Legislative Auditor singled out the inspector general on fraud in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).
In the report, it detailed how Minnesota’s government spent millions of taxpayer dollars on fraudulent child care centers. For example, “child care center owners recruited CCAP eligible mothers by offering to pay kickbacks to entice the mothers to advise county CCAP staff that their children are attending a particular center.”
The report also described a “serious rift” among top CCAP officials.
CCAP fraud investigators who worked alongside former Inspector General Scott Stillman noted they had not personally spoken to Ham when she was appointed in 2017. Furthermore, several investigators thought Ham undermined them when they brought up potential fraud cases.
Back in March, the inspector general released a statement calling the allegations “meritless.”
“During my two years as Inspector General, my top priority has always been to ensure that the taxpayers’ money is being used in a responsible manner, and my record reflects that,” she said.
As The Minnesota Sun previously reported, Ham, along with other on-leave state employees, are paid millions while on leave. St. Paul, Minneapolis, Hennepin County, and Ramsey County spent $3.7 million in “stay away pay” between 2015 and 2018.
Ham’s annual salary is $132,880.
Minnesota’s DHS shakeup continues as two of its officials, Chuck Johnson and Claire Wilson, abruptly announced their resignations on Friday. Johnson filled in for Ham while she was on leave, according to the Pioneer Press.
Johnson, the department’s operations commissioner, has been with the agency since 1989. Wilson, the DHS’s deputy policy commissioner, started in 2016.
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