A DFL state representative has resigned from a research position at the University of Minnesota after it was discovered that the position was created explicitly for him and with his input.
That’s according to documents obtained through a public records request by State Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R-Ghent), who said that House colleague Rep. Jamie Long (DFL-Minneapolis) was “closely consulted through every step of the process, including the creation of the position description, his work week schedule, and ensuring that the position would not overlap with the 2020 legislative session.”
Long was hired in July as an “energy research project specialist” at the university’s Energy Transition Lab housed in the Institute on the Environment, executive directed by former DFL Sen. Ellen Anderson.
One email obtained by Swedzinski suggested that Long’s position would involve “engaging and educating legislators and other decision makers,” while an additional email said the university received $50,000 from an anonymous donor to “hire Jamie Long for one year.”
This email, dated 5/24/19 says “We got $50k from [REDACTED] to hire Jamie Long for one year.”
The job posted in mid-June.
— MN House Republicans (@mnhousegop) September 11, 2019
Long resigned from the position Wednesday, but maintains that he “went through a public hiring process” like anyone else would. Swedzinski, however, claims that’s false, since records reveal Long’s name was “included in budget documents that pre-date the existence of the job description which he helped create.”
Swedzinski also thinks Long’s behavior could “constitute lobbying activity prohibited under House rules.”
As a result, he’s sent a letter to House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) requesting that Long be suspended from his role as assistant majority leader pending a full investigation.
“When a former Democrat lawmaker solicits funds from an anonymous donor to hire a sitting Democrat lawmaker, there are major questions that demand a full investigation by Speaker Hortman and DFL leadership,” Swedzinski said in a press release. “Rep. Long was able to write his own position description, set his own hours, and tailor his hours to ensure he was fully employed while the legislature was out of session. Until we know for sure that this hiring did not run afoul of our ethics and campaign finance laws, Rep. Long should be suspended from his leadership positions within the Democrat caucus.”
The university announced Thursday that Anderson was reassigned to work on other projects, while State Sen. Paul Anderson (R-Plymouth), chair of the Senate Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee, sent a letter to University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel demanding answers.
“The recent media reports on the Environmental Institute at the University of Minnesota are deeply concerning and raise several questions about their hiring practices and the propriety of hiring a sitting legislator to influence the actions of his colleagues at the capitol,” Sen. Anderson said in his letter. “Questions need to be answered for clarity and transparency to the Senate and for accountability to the numerous university graduates and students, and the people of Minnesota, all of whom take great pride in the work of the institution.”
“Another week, another scandal at the hands of Minnesota Democrats,” Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan added in a Wednesday press release, listing several unanswered questions.
“Once again, we are left with questions: Who was the redacted donor of Rep. Long’s $50k salary? Was the U of M trying to buy votes to support their nearly $100 million budget request this year? Are there additional inappropriate relationships between the Walz Administration, DFL lawmakers and this liberal institution or elsewhere purely for personal and political gain?” she said. “One thing is certain. Governor Walz, Speaker Hortman, and their fellow Minnesota Democrats are more interested in padding the pockets of their friends than looking out for the people they are supposed to represent.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Minnesota Welcome Sign” by AlexiusHoratius. CC BY-SA 3.0.