A shocking new report found that state employees who are under investigation for crimes and misconduct are paid millions in taxpayers dollars while they are on administrative or investigative leave.
KARE 11, who uncovered the scandal, is dubbing the controversy “stay away pay,” since state employees are effectively paid to stay away from their place of work.
A.J. Lagoe of KARE 11 found that Ramsey County Correctional Officer Travis VanDeWiele, for instance, received $121,555 in pay over a two year period while he was on administrative leave. VanDeWiele was placed on leave for using excessive force, and continued to receive pay for a year after he plead guilty to disorderly conduct.
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Thomas Tichich, meanwhile, was paid $65,000 over a 13 month period while awaiting trial for sexually assaulting a passed out woman. Tichich was convicted and is now in prison.
In total, the investigation found that between January 1, 2015 and May 31, 2018, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Ramsey County, and Hennepin County paid out $3.7 million in “stay away pay.”
“Well I think it’s a scandal. I think people are rightly outraged when they find out that many public employees in this state have been paid literally to stay away from their jobs, often because they’re being investigated for really serious wrongdoing,” said John Hinderaker, president of the Center of the American Experiment.
The New House Republican Caucus questioned whether Inspector General Carolyn Ham “is paid to stay away while CCAP fallout continues.”
KARE 11 report says State Employees are paid millions while being investigated. Is IG Carolyn Ham is paid to stay away while CCAP fallout continues? #mnleg https://t.co/L4F4I5opL2 @MNThinkTank pic.twitter.com/Rk0XpiOBIx
— newhousegop (@newhousegop) May 3, 2019
Ham, like many of the state employees cited in KARE 11’s report, was placed on investigative leave in March following the release of the Office of the Legislative Auditor’s report on fraud in the state’s Child Care Assistance Program.
Lagoe found that some would like to see legislation passed in order to address the issue. He pointed to a law in San Francisco that places a 60 day limit on paying employees who are placed on investigative leave.
“I would say if San Francisco can do it, we can do it too,” Hinderaker added.
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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].