Feeding our Future Fraud exposes Minnesota's corruption problem for the world to see

(AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh, File)

Minnesota’s reputation for clean politics and good government has always been a complete fraud. It is a construct created to satisfy the need for self-congratulation that all moralists feel. Our politics are performative, not substantive. That’s hardly unique, of course. We have just elevated it to an art form in our state.

The corruption of Chicago and Louisiana  is out in the open for people to see. Here we give awards to the corrupt for being paragons of virtue.

A great example of this is the Feeding our Future scandal. As I reported yesterday the US Attorney has handed down a slew of indictments, alleging (I have to use that word, but the facts make it clear that the people are guilty as sin) that the dozens of people indicted committed the most brazen COVID-related fraud discovered yet in the country. The scope is literally breathtaking.

In just a couple years a quarter of a billion dollars was stolen. In one state. By a few dozen people. Out in the open for the world to see. And nobody in the state government did anything about it, and no local news media dove into it until the feds started cracking down on the perpetrators. 

How did they get away with it? Connections. Particularly connections with highly placed politicians such as Mayor Frey in Minneapolis and squad-member Representative Ilhan Omar. Minneapolis City Council Member Jamal Osman helped found a nonprofit involved in the fraudulent scheme. The list of corrupt officials gets longer the deeper you dive. Two former Minneapolis city officials were among the indicted.

A former aide to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and a former board chair of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA) were among the dozens indicted Tuesday in connection with a sweeping scheme to defraud the government of millions meant to feed children.

In court documents, federal prosecutors allege that Abdi Nur Salah, who previously worked in Frey’s office, and Sharmarke Issa, who previously chaired the MPHA board, were part of a cohort who claimed to provide meals to needy children but instead used the money for personal purchases, including to buy a piece of real estate together. Both Salah and Issa left their posts in February.

According to the indictment, Issa created a company called Minnesota’s Somali Community and “fraudulently caused [the Minnesota Department of Education] to pay out more than $7.4 million” to programs means to feed children between November 2020 and December 2021. “Rather than provide hundreds of thousands of meals to children it was further part of the scheme that Issa acquired multiple pieces of property, including a $785,000 house for himself,” the indictment said.

The money was distributed by the Minnesota Department of Education, and they had to know that massive fraud was going on. A quarter of a billion dollars doesn’t disappear into thin air without somebody noticing.

Either they were intimidated by the political clout behind the fraud, or they were scared to death of appearing racist. Because, you see, almost all the fraud was committed by and went to members of the newly arrived Somali community in Minnesota. The video below is members of the Somali community thanking Feeding Our Future CEO Aimee Bock, who fronted the organization, for her work.

The work was funneling a quarter billion in cold hard cash into their pockets.

Minnesota has one of the largest Somali populations in the world, and they have become a political force within the state. Ilhan Omar is an obvious example, but there are others. Somalis have acquired real political power as an important part of the Democrat-Farmer-Labor Party coalition here in Minnesota. (DFL is what the Democrat Party calls itself in our state). Minneapolis has a neighborhood commonly called “Little Mogadishu.”

Everybody is scared to death of being called a racist. It is the single worst accusation you can hurl in the United States, although transphobic and homophobic are closing in fast. So the powers-that-be look away. It takes an FBI raid and indictments to get even a bit of attention, and within the local media that attention dies away very very quickly.

Bill Glahn at the Center of the American Experiment has done amazing work tracking down the case, as has David Fahrenthold of the New York Times and Joey Peters of the Sahal Journal. But that’s about it for curiosity in the scandals.

The Somali immigrants have been implicated in other corruption scandals at a grand scale. As in tens of millions of dollars at a crack scale. Just a few years ago a fake day care scheme netting tens of millions of dollars was uncovered, this time in a program run by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. See the pattern? State funds get funneled to corrupt nonprofits and until an outsider gets involved the money flows freely.

Everybody is so worried about appearing racist or anti-immigrant that we look the other way. We even celebrate the expansion of diversity represented by the newly acquired political prominence of an immigrant community.

It’s ridiculous. Legal immigrants can bring new vitality to a community. But they can bring new problems, even import the worst aspects of their culture here to America. And the worst aspects of Somali culture are very bad indeed.

There are plenty of great Somali immigrants here. Wonderful. Thanks for coming and bringing your talents here.

But let the bad guys get away because they flatter our desire to spout nostrums like “diversity is our strength?” No way, no thank you.

Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect two hundred (or two hundred million) dollars.

 

 

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