Did AG Lori Swanson drop the ball on Somali daycare fraud?

“Lori Swanson, the attorney general, is the one state official who has the responsibility and the statutory authority to prosecute persons who defraud state child care programs,” Doug Wardlow told Alpha News.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Recent revelations of rampant Somali daycare fraud that could be funneling money to terrorists have many Minnesotans wondering what could have been done to detect the fraud sooner.

A bombshell report from FOX 9 revealed ongoing fraud in Minnesota’s child care assistance program leading to over $100 million a year being shipped overseas, potentially into the hands of terrorists. According to the report, carry-on suitcases stuffed with cash, sometimes up to a million dollars, regularly fly out of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport headed for the Middle East. Some of the $100 million leaving the country is being funneled into the region of Somalia that is controlled by the al Shabaab terrorist group. The money, according to the FOX 9 investigators, can be traced back to daycare businesses in Minnesota.

The startling report has many Minnesotans wondering what could have been done to detect the fraud and shut down the scheme sooner. According to Attorney General candidate Doug Wardlow, people should be turning their attention to Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson.

“Lori Swanson, the attorney general, is the one state official who has the responsibility and the statutory authority to prosecute persons who defraud state child care programs,” Wardlow told Alpha News. “She has simply failed to do her job, and the result is that taxpayer dollars are being sent to at least one organization that is a known terrorist organization.”

Under Minnesota statute 256.98, the attorney general has full authority over cases of fraud involving child care assistance programs, and “may institute a criminal or civil action” to “prosecute or recover assistance wrongfully obtained.”

Wardlow pointed to the statute, saying Swanson appears to have “completely ignored her duty.”

“This is one of the few areas where the attorney general has the authority to act under state law without a county attorney,” Wardlow said. “So she should be in the lead on this. She should be coordinating the effort.”

Daycare fraud has been a known problem within Minnesota for multiple years. Daycare businesses game the system in order to steal millions of taxpayer dollars meant to go towards helping low-income families with child care expenses.

Acting Commissioner for the Department of Human Services Chuck Johnson told FOX 9 they are currently investigating 10 daycares for fraudulent activity, and dozens more are considered “suspicious.” According to government records, the majority of the daycare businesses in question are owned by Somali immigrants.

Wardlow pointed out that government officials have been aware of daycare fraud for over five years, saying Swanson has no excuse for not investigating the fraud sooner. Instead of enforcing current state laws, Wardlow says Swanson has been busy “grandstanding against President Trump.” Wardlow called for Swanson to put politics aside and spend “more time going after criminals in Minnesota and keeping Minnesotans safe.”

“The fact of the matter is that we just need our current state laws enforced. We have a state law that makes defrauding child care subsidies a crime,” Wardlow said. “She can sue on behalf of the state, recover the money, and prosecute these people.”

“The result of not enforcing our laws is that this money is being defrauded and is going to terrorists organizations. That could have been prevented,” Wardlow added. “The fact of the matter is that we need to enforce our laws. And in this instance had Lori Swanson had done her job, we could have stopped this.”

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