Pappas denies second ethics hearing on Hayden

The chair of the Senate Ethics Committee has decided against holding a hearing on a second ethics complaint against Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis.

In a letter to Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, Sen. David Thompson, R-Lakeville, and Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, wrote that she doesn’t believe the complaint process “provides any member of the Senate the right to submit unlimited and duplicative complaints arising from [the] same underlying circumstances that form the basis for a pending complaint.”

Senate Republicans filed a second ethics complaint against Sen. Hayden in April, suggesting he lied under oath about his role as a board member at Community Action of Minneapolis. They wanted the Senate Ethics Committee to hold a hearing on that complaint.

But Pappas and Sen. Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, said they thought the complaint was too similar to an initial ethics charge filed last fall against Hayden. The committee opted to not act on the initial complaint until several investigations into Community Action of Minneapolis are complete.

Hann issued a statement saying Pappas’ decision “calls into question not only the integrity of the ethics process but the integrity of the entire Minnesota Senate.”

“This is a new complaint that deserves a new hearing. Senate rules don’t allow the Chair to simply not accept the complaint. Eventually, the Subcommittee on Ethics will have to reconvene and hear the evidence regarding Sen. Hayden’s transgressions.

“This started with Jeff Hayden bringing the Senate into disrepute by accepting taxpayer funded perks. It was elevated when he lied about those perks under oath. Sen. Pappas elevated it again this week by refusing to do her job and get to the truth.

“A cloud will hang over Sen. Hayden, Sen. Pappas and the entire Senate until this matter is resolved.”

Hayden has been facing criticism for accepting airfare from Community Action of Minneapolis when his wife served as his proxy on the nonprofit’s board. MPR News has also reported that he was kept in the loop about the problems at the nonprofit.

The state canceled its contracts with Community Action of Minneapolis in September of 2014 after a Department of Human Services audit found CEO Bill Davis spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money on vacations, a car lease and other perks.

Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said his department is assisting the FBI in an investigation into Community Action.

Davis said he has done nothing wrong.

Here’s Pappas’ letter: