The U.S. House Ethics Committee will review allegations that U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn used his office budget to pay a business owned by his staff and that his campaign accepted free office space from a political donor, a violation of federal election law.
The decision to further investigate the congressman from Minnesota's First Congressional District follows a report from the Office of Congressional Ethics, or OCE, which is an independent, non-partisan entity charged with reviewing allegations of misconduct against members of Congress and, when appropriate, referring matters to the Ethics Committee.
According to the report of the OCE: “There is substantial reason to believe that Hagedorn used official funds to contract for services with companies owned or controlled by his staff members…. There is substantial reason to believe that Hagedorn used private office space at no cost or for a rate below fair market value."
The vote to refer the matter to the Ethics Committee for more investigation was 6-0.
The OCE investigation began after Reformer contributor Dan Newhauser reported in 2020 that Hagedorn spent more than $400,000 of taxpayer money on contractors owned by his staff in one case and the brother of his former chief-of-staff in another.
Newhauser then reported for Politico that Hagedorn appeared to be enjoying rent-free use of a campaign office supplied by a political donor.
Elliot Berke, an attorney for Hagedorn, responded to the Ethics Committee chair and ranking member, alleging there were “material misstatements made to the OCE" and “unfounded conclusions reached by the OCE in its referral."
As for the free office space allegation, Berke writes that Hagedorn has been “targeted" by “leftist groups."
The Office of Congressional Ethics also found that there was “substantial reason to believe" wrongdoing by U.S. Reps. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., Mike Kelly, R-Penn., and Alex Mooney, R-W.V., on unrelated matters.
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