ABM Files Allegation Against MolnauNews Story Raises Questions about $3.3 Million Land Deal
Saint Paul – Alliance for a Better Minnesota has filed an allegation with the Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor against Lieutenant Governor and former Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation Carol Molnau in light of a recent news story that raised questions about whether she should have disclosed land she owned, and then sold for $3.3 million, near a transportation bill she advocated and voted for.
“There are a lot of questions that need to be answered,” said Denise Cardinal, Executive Director of Alliance for a Better Minnesota. “Three million dollars is a lot of money.”
Below is the language from the filing, which was submitted today:
According to a recent article in the Star Tribune (attached), Lieutenant Governor and former Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation Carol Molnau did not disclose farm land she owned – and was poised to sell to a developer – even though she presented, advocated on behalf of and voted in favor of bills that would affect the value of the land when she was serving in the House of Representatives.
Specifically, a bill she sponsored (as chair of the House Transportation Committee in 2000) required the Minnesota Department of Transportation to tell the legislature the status of major highway projects – the highway projects chosen by state legislators. Included in those projects was highway 212, a road that was slated to go near the Molnau property and is now completed as a four-lane divided highway. Molnau sold the property to a developer for $3.3 million just days after the bill was signed into law.
As the highest ranking transportation official in the state, and the second highest ranking elected official, it is important for the public to know if Molnau behaved inappropriately – particularly as it relates to her influence over the use of state funds for road projects. As an elected official, she is accountable for the actions she has taken as an employee of the state, especially those actions related to the office she held as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
State law provides a code of ethics for executive branch employees. The code forbids an employee to use confidential information to further the employee’s private interests; forbids use of state time or property for the employee’s private interests, or for any other use not in the interest of the state; requires an employee to attempt to avoid specified conflicts of interest. [Minn. Stats. 43A.38]
Legislators and specified legislative staff must file an annual report on economic interests and also must disclose when taking a decision or action that would affect personal financial interests. House members with an immediate interest in a question must not vote on it. [Minn. Stats. 10A.07; House Rules 2.05]
Alliance for a Better Minnesota (ABM) is a Minnesota-based online advocacy and communications organization working to provide cutting edge online tools for working families. ABM is focused primarily on securing major advances in progressive public policy for Minnesota and standing up for working families. You can find out more at www.allianceminnesota.org.