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MinDak Hunter

Ex-DNR officials won't be charged.

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Ex-DNR officials won't be charged

By DAVID SHAFFER, Star Tribune

November 17, 2008

Two former Minnesota Department of Natural Resources enforcement officials who inappropriately spent $300,000 in state money on a game warden conference will not be charged with any crimes, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner said today.

The county attorney declined to prosecute former enforcement chief Col. Mike Hamm and his spouse, former Capt. Cathy Hamm, for theft or false claims against the government, saying that high-level DNR officials explicitly or implicitly approved the expenditures even though the commissioner wanted no state money spent on the 2007 conference in St. Paul.

"Because of that approval, none of those expenditures can be characterized as either theft or fraudulent," according to a memo by assistant director Clayton Robinson Jr.

Mike Hamm resigned in September after being presented with a critical report on his conduct prepared by Minneapolis attorney Tammy Pust, who was hired by the state to investigate the matter. The DNR said Cathy Hamm, a lead organizer of the event, was fired in October. Both had been on paid leave since May.

The Minnesota Legislative Auditor asked the county attorney to review the matter after a state audit found that the DNR broke state law by spending state money and soliciting private donations for the North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association conference.

The audit and the Pust investigation were prompted by a story last May in the Star Tribune, which reported that the DNR kicked in money and staff time to plan and host the conference, but didn't share in the $76,000 in profits, which went to the state conservation officers union and the international association.

The week-long event drew game wardens and wildlife officers from the United States and Canada. All of Minnesota's approximately 200 conservation officers were required to attend at state expense.

© 2008 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.

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Ain't that just grand???!!! Misspend 300 grand of public funds and just walk away smiling. We need accountability for these things or there is no reason to toe the line on money issues. All this did was tell them it is just fine to waste public money mad

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I agree Upnorth but it doesn't suprise me at all. Someone needs to crack down on the folks that waste our money or it will never end. But who's gonna crack down as they all waste our money?

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How convenient for Mr & Mrs Hamm. Pass the buck again. Oh, they retired? How convenient. Pass the buck once again. Who signed off on this $300,000 party? Step up and receive yer' beatin'!

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This was YOUR $300,000 tax dollars! This was not a private firm at a party - it was YOUR money!!!

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Ain't that just grand???!!! Misspend 300 grand of public funds and just walk away smiling. We need accountability for these things or there is no reason to toe the line on money issues. All this did was tell them it is just fine to waste public money mad

hey, the politicians do it and get away with it.

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Makes you wonder what will happen to the Clean Water Amendment $$$ now doesn't it?!?

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Makes you wonder what will happen to the Clean Water Amendment $$$ now doesn't it?!?

I promise that money will be spent honestly and wisely! smile

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The county attorney declined to prosecute former enforcement chief Col. Mike Hamm and his spouse, former Capt. Cathy Hamm, for theft or false claims against the government, saying that high-level DNR officials explicitly or implicitly approved the expenditures . . .

"Because of that approval, none of those expenditures can be characterized as either theft or fraudulent," according to a memo by assistant director Clayton Robinson Jr.

No theft and no fraud = no prosecution.

So, since the blame game seems to be the game you all want to play on this thread, perhaps the blame should be placed on those "high-level DNR officials explicitly or implicitly approved the expenditures."

Do we know who they are? How many layers of high-level DNR official were there above Col. Mike Hamm but below the commissioner? Not many. Can't be that hard to pin down if someone really cares to.

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