Company hired to oversee vaccine operations staffed with former DFL operatives, congressman alleges

Hagedorn is alleging that in exchange for Walz’s hiring Vault Health for COVID work many Minnesota companies would have been capable of doing, the company “kicked back money to Walz’s DFL cronies.”

Dan Feehan/Department of Defense

An out-of-state company tasked with overseeing Minnesota’s vaccine and testing operations received millions of dollars in CARES Act funds from the state while hiring former DFL operatives and candidates, a congressman has alleged.

U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn has drawn attention to his former opponent’s alleged involvement in “possible corruption” and “special favors” in a series of statements.

In a February statement, Hagedorn said that Gov. Tim Walz hired the New York-based company Vault Health to preside over “COVID-related tasks.” Walz used millions of dollars out of Minnesota’s share of the CARES Act to pay the company, according to Hagedorn.

“I’m told Walz set up this contract using his emergency powers and did not go through a standard competition process,” Hagedorn said, reiterating that Walz made this decision without any input from the Legislature.

Dan Feehan, who ran against Hagedorn for Congress the last two election cycles, was  hired by the men’s health company to “oversee vaccine distribution,” according to Hagedorn, even though Feehan has no “hands-on or pertinent background and experience” for the role.

Vault, however, touted Feehan’s time at the Pentagon during an Ebola virus outbreak as qualification for the job.

According to a press release from Vault in January of this year, the company said it brought in Feehan as part of its efforts “to ensure that Vault has built the strongest system for states to vaccinate their population.”

The release says that Vault partnered with Minnesota to run COVID testing programs, “including at-home, on-site and pop-up testing events.”

A statement from Feb. 19 on Vault’s website announces its partnership with certain states to operate vaccine and testing sites.

“In Minneapolis, we vaccinated nearly 9,700 patients in over three days. And, at the time of this writing, we’ve vaccinated about 1,500 people in just one day in Duluth. Other cities in Minnesota are soon to follow,” the announcement reads.

The Minnesota Department of Health’s website refers users to Vault with their questions on making a vaccine appointment.

Walz, Vault, and Feehan are to blame for the “failed” vaccine lottery system, Hagedorn said.

“The delivery of vaccine via the lottery is so bad that the Minnesota Hospital Association wrote Walz and his bureaucrats … to openly complain and harshly demand an immediate end to the lottery,” Hagedorn noted.

MPR reporter Catharine Richert briefly wrote in early February about Feehan’s involvement with Vault and said that the company, “which has been doing saliva testing in Minnesota, is taking over the state vaccine site operations, too.”

Feehan is just one questionable hire by Vault, Hagedorn claimed, noting that Feehan’s campaign manager and Walz’s former deputy chief of staff were also hired by Vault Health for unknown reasons.

Hagedorn alleged in a second statement that in exchange for Walz’s hiring of Vault Health for COVID work many Minnesota companies would have been capable of doing, the company “kicked back money to Walz’s DFL cronies” by offering them cushy jobs.

Feehan is the same politician who was “hand-picked” by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to run for Congress in Minnesota, and who was defeated twice by Hagedorn, he noted in his statement.

Hagedorn also made reference to past controversies involving Feehan’s finances.

“Walz’s hiring of Vault Health and Vault Health’s hiring of Feehan fits Feehan and the Democrats’ pattern of finding questionable sources to personally finance carpetbagger Feehan as he spends years fruitlessly running for Congress,” Hagedorn said.

“Expect Feehan to announce a third campaign later this year, after this latest contract and payment to run for Congress is complete,” he added, suggesting that Feehan’s new job would position him well financially to launch a third bid.

Feehan was previously accused of being paid by different Democratic groups to run for Congress, collecting almost $500,000 in 2019. Hagedorn’s campaign requested that Feehan provide proof of work he had done to receive the payments, but they were never provided with that information.