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House Ethics Committee to extend inquiry into Rep. Hagedorn

The allegations concern payments made to a Hagedorn staff member for more than $100,000 in taxpayer dollars for the printing of mailers. That revelation was first reported by the Minnesota Reformer. Hagedorn is also alleged to have maintained a rent-free campaign office, which was reported by Politico.

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U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn speaks at a Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, July 7, 2021, at La Crescent Area Event Center in La Crescent. (Traci Westcott /twestcott@postbulletin.com)
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ROCHESTER, Minn. — The U.S. House Committee on Ethics accepted a recommendation to further investigate allegations that Rep. Jim Hagedorn misused office funds as well as failed to report an in-kind contribution of private office space in possible violation of House rules and federal law.

The allegations concern payments made to a Hagedorn staff member for more than $100,000 in taxpayer dollars for the printing of mailers. That revelation was first reported by the Minnesota Reformer. Hagedorn is also alleged to have maintained a rent-free campaign office, which was reported by Politico.

On Thursday, Oct. 21, the Office of Congressional Ethics released its report on Hagedorn, along with three other House members under investigation, detailing the alleged ethical transgressions.

If Hagedorn did misuse office funds or if his campaign committee failed to report an in-kind contribution of office space or received an excessive contribution, Hagedorn "may have violated House rules, standards of conduct and federal law," the OCE notes.

A Hagedorn, a Republican from Blue Earth, is serving his second two-year term in the House.

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In both instances, the board recommended the House committee further investigate the matters, "because there is substantial reason to believe" that the allegations against Hagedorn are true, the OCE report said.

"In order to gather additional information necessary to complete its review, the Committee will review the matter..." the committee chairman and ranking member stated in a joint communication. "The Committee notes that the mere fact of the conducting a further review of a referral ... does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred."

The statement said the committee will refrain from making any further remarks on the inquiry until its review is complete.

Revelations that Hagedorn's congressional office spent heavily in taxpayer-funded mailings in the first three months of last year came about as he was gearing up for re-election. After the controversy came to light, Hagedorn dismissed his then-chief-of-staff Peter Su and conducted an internal review of the matter.

Hagedorn's attorney said that the Republican congressman had no knowledge of the underlying issues and "has acted in good faith throughout."

"From the moment he learned of the franking issues in his office, Congressman Hagedorn acted in a responsible and transparent manner," Elliot Berke, Hagedorn's attorney, said in a statement after the report's release. "He self-reported the matter to the Ethics Committee and will continue to work it to bring it to a conclusion."

OCE noted in its report that it sought Hagedorn's cooperation in its review of the allegations, but that Hagedorn "refused to participate."

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Matthew Stolle has been a Post Bulletin reporter since 2000 and covered many of the beats that make up a newsroom. In his first several years, he covered K-12 education and higher education in Rochester before shifting to politics. He has also been a features writer. Today, Matt jumps from beat to beat, depending on what his editor and the Rochester area are producing in terms of news. Readers can reach Matthew at 507-281-7415 or mstolle@postbulletin.com.
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