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5 things to know today: Internal investigation, Burgum bankroll, VA Secretary, Formula shortage, Mayo clinic

A select rundown of stories found on InForum.

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Troy Hanson
Fargo Police Department
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1. Fargo detective under internal investigation for not disclosing relationship with prosecutor

A Fargo detective is under internal investigation for dating a prosecutor, a police spokesperson has confirmed.

The Fargo Police Department is looking into whether policies were violated due to the relationship between Detective Troy Hanson and Cass County Assistant State’s Attorney SheraLynn Ternes. Ternes disclosed the relationship to her office in mid-December, according to State’s Attorney Birch Burdick.

Fargo Police Chief David Zibolski was not aware of the relationship before Wednesday, May 19, spokesperson Gregg Schildberger told The Forum. Wednesday was also when defense attorneys for 36-year-old Anthony Reese Jr., who was charged in November with three counts of murder for a shooting at Melet Plastics in Fargo, questioned why they weren’t informed about the relationship before Friday, May 13.

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“An internal investigation into this matter has commenced,” Schildberger said in a statement. “Until that is concluded, I will refrain from any additional comments.”

Ternes declined to comment on this story, Burdick said. Hanson said he would defer questions to a spokesperson for the police department.

Read more from The Forum's April Baumgarten

2. Gov. Burgum bankrolls effort to unseat North Dakota GOP lawmakers, including top budget writer

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North Dakota Rep. Bill Tveit, R-Hazen, said he has recently received 18 politcal mailers in support of his Republican challengers, Mark Pierce and Anna Novak. The mailers were paid for by Dakota Leadership PAC, a secretive political committee funded entirely by Republican Gov. Doug Burgum.
Photo provided by Bill Tveit

In the lead-up to the June primary election, a secretive political committee entirely funded by North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum is flooding two Bismarck area legislative districts with advertisements in an attempt to beat out endorsed Republican candidates.

Forum News Service reported this week that Burgum, a former tech mogul, recently gave $935,000 to the Dakota Leadership PAC. In 2020, Burgum bankrolled the committee's extensive political advertising campaigns with more than $3.2 million of his personal fortune.

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The group's latest advertising blitz targets legislative seats sought by several incumbent Republican lawmakers, including powerful House Appropriations Chairman Jeff Delzer, R-Underwood.

Hazen Republican Rep. Bill Tveit, who is running for reelection as a team with Delzer, told Forum News Service he has so far received 18 Dakota Leadership PAC mailers in support of Republican challengers Anna Novak and Mark Pierce, who lost the local GOP endorsement to Tveit and Delzer.

None of the ads have attacked the incumbents' political records or characters, but Tveit said he expects the committee to go negative in the near future.

Read more from Forum News Service's Jeremy Turley

3. Veterans Affairs secretary lauds Fargo facility's work

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Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough holds a press conference Thursday, May 19, 2022, at the Fargo VA Medical Center.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough visited the Fargo VA Medical Center on Thursday, May 19, and he said he came away impressed by the center's staff and leaders.

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"This is one of our really high-functioning facilities," said McDonough, who added that one of the most remarkable numbers he heard during his stop in Fargo was that the health system's trust scores among women veterans in the Fargo area are at 94%, which he called "a very high number."

He said anyone wanting to learn more about the VA's trust scores, which seek to measure patients' trust in the VA, can visit www.va.gov/trust.

McDonough said he was particularly impressed by the work being done at the Fargo VA and the Fargo Vet Center to increase access to mental health care. He said local officials are aggressively recruiting and working to retain health care professionals at a time when all health care providers are struggling to find and keep staff.

Read more from The Forum's David Olson

4. 'It's a health crisis': Minnesota parents raise concerns about baby formula shortage

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Near empty baby formula shelves at a Fargo big box store.
Ben Morris / WDAY News

Minnesota parents on Thursday, May 19, told Walz Administration officials about their struggles to find baby formula for their infants amid the national shortage and urged state action to make more formula available.

Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan along with state Department of Health leaders, lawmakers, health care providers and grocery company leaders met for a round table discussion at the Capitol to discuss the scale of the problem and to consider what state leaders and private companies could offer solutions.

"Access to nutrition, that's the priority and we want to figure out how we can do that," Flanagan said. "We are feeding our babies and there is literally nothing that is more important than that."

The shutdown of a Michigan formula plant due to reported contamination earlier this year left the market with a substantial gap in recent weeks that came to a head after parents reported that infant formula was unavailable in stores or online. Minnesota parents said they'd visited multiple stores to find formula and reached out to friends or family in other states or countries to see if they could spare extra canisters.

This week, the Food and Drug Administration said it would allow the plant to reopen after it was expected and announced that it would loosen regulations on other formula production plants to get more infant formula into circulation. The Biden Administration on Wednesday also invoked the federal Defense Production Act to get needed supplies to U.S. formula producers and order the Department of Defense to expedite shipments coming from overseas.

Read more from Forum News Service's Dana Ferguson

5. Two lawsuits against Mayo Clinic over vaccine firings may be the start of a wave of cases

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The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Bloomberg photo by Ariana Lindquist

Two former Mayo Clinic employees filed lawsuits this week claiming they were unfairly fired for refusing COVD-19 vaccines. They may be the first of a coming wave of wrongful termination suits.

Minneapolis attorney Gregory Erickson, who represents Shelly Kiel of Owatonna and Sherry Ihde of Zumbro Falls, said these two cases are just the first of more than 100 similar ones that he is filing against Mayo Clinic.

He also expects to file similar suits against Olmsted Medical Center for former employees that he is representing.

“About 80 to 100 of the cases against Mayo Clinic will be for people who live in Rochester,” said Erickson on Wednesday evening. “A lot more cases will be filed next week.”

He said he also represents fired Mayo Clinic employees in Wisconsin, Florida and Arizona.

Mayo Clinic issued a statement about the lawsuits.

Read more from Forum News Service's Jeff Kiger

Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "staff." Often, the "staff" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.
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A select rundown of stories found on InForum.
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