State Senator Paul Anderson (R-Plymouth), chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, has sent a letter to University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel asking for details about UofM hiring practices. Specifically, Senator Anderson is asking about the hiring of current state representative Jamie Long (D-Minneapolis) by the UofM’s “Institute on the Environment.”
Long was hired to the Institute’s “Energy Transition Lab” (ETL) by a former Democrat Senator and current UofM employee, Ellen Anderson, and emails appear to show that Anderson allowed Long to craft the position so it could perfectly fit with his work as a state legislator. Not only that, it appears as if the position was created specifically for Long, with the money earmarked for this purpose by the McKnight Foundation.
One email mentioned money given “to start a legislative fellows program and hire MN Rep. Jamie Long.” In another email, Long said he hoped his position would “debunk right-wing misinformation spread by a local ‘think tank’ about the reliability and cost of renewable energy, fossil fuels, and nuclear.”
Of course, this raises questions about possible ethics and campaign finance violations, and—potentially—the use of big money to influence environmental policy where potentially billions in “green subsidies” are on the line.
It also raises questions about the uber-liberal UofM, which receives both federal and state taxpayer dollars—via subsidized student loans and state taxpayer funding, respectively.
So far, Ellen Anderson, the former DFL lawmaker, has been “reassigned” by the UofM. And the McKnight Foundation and the UofM have been scrambling to say that nothing improper was occurring.
Here are a few of the important questions Senator Anderson asks in his letter to UofM President Joan Gabel:
- It appears that staff at the Energy Transition Lab (ETL) crafted the position with a specific candidate in mind. Is this a common hiring practice at the University?
- As Executive Director of ETL, Ellen Anderson asked a prospective candidate, Rep. Jamie Long, to assist her in creating the position description for the fellowship. Is that a common practice at the University?
- Was there any consideration from the University on how Rep. Long’s position as a legislator could have influenced his hiring or his ability to succeed in this fellowship?
- During Rep. Long’s time at the ETL, what steps did the University take to maintain separation between his role at the ETL and his position as a legislator?
- What were Rep. Long’s responsibilities in his time at the ETL?
- Does the University have any other staff, faculty, or contractors who are current legislators?
On Donations, Senator Paul Anderson asked:
- Is it common practice for the University to solicit private donations to pay for a specific position or hire specific individuals?
- Is it common practice for the University to solicit, or accept, donations with the explicit purpose of hiring certain individuals? If so, does the University return donations when the certain individual is not hired?
- How does the University ensure that donors do not have an undue influence on the work of the University?
On former Democratic Senator Ellen Anderson’s role, Republican Senator Anderson asks:
- What were Ellen Anderson’s duties and responsibilities as Executive Director of the ETL?
- What is Ms. Anderson’s current title?
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