Legislative auditor asked to review dual MDVA press releases

In a previous post I asked why the MN Department of Veterans Affairs sent a press release to veterans groups about a series of town hall meetings to talk about ‘recent reforms passed under Gov Dayton’s leadership’.

In an update, a spokesman for the MDVA confirmed what veterans reported from the meetings-the governor wasn’t even present at meetings to highlight his leadership for veterans.

Now, the Office of the Legislative Auditor has been asked to examine the press releases to see if they violated state law regarding use of official communications to highlight individuals in government rather than the office they hold.

From a letter sent by Rep Bob Dettmer, Republican from district 39A and a veteran himself;

Dear Mr. Nobles,

 

I am writing to express concern with a recent communication sent from the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) to the media and veterans organizations around the state.

The attached press release was sent on September 27 and provided information about a statewide tour occurring October 3-9, hosted by MDVA leadership. In the release, it is stated that the purpose of the events is to inform the public about “recent reforms passed under Governor Dayton’s leadership.”

I was disappointed to read the purpose of these events was to promote the governor instead of providing information to Veterans and their families. I am proud of the bipartisan work the legislature has done over my four terms in the Minnesota House to pass many of these reforms.

Rep Dettmer has a valid concern here-it is disingenuous for the governor to take sole credit for reforms passed by the legislature as a whole.

More concerning is that two separate press releases were sent from MDVA touting this tour. I believe the aforementioned release was sent to only Minnesota’s Veterans organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans, and others. A second, simpler release with no mention of Governor Dayton was posted online by MDVA for public consumption.

 

As you know, Minnesota Statute section 10.60 deals with public web sites and publications. Subd. 3 prohibits the attribution of content published by state agencies to an individual office holder rather than the office itself. While I welcome the governor’s efforts in this area, I believe MDVA has crossed the line here.

 

Therefore, in representation of the state’s interests, I am requesting that the Legislative Auditor examine the communications from MDVA regarding this public events tour and determine if they violate the intent of current law.

 As I mentioned previously, Gov Dayton is entitled to take credit for successes in the MDVA.  But claiming that reforms were due to his leadership, and making the claim in official communications to the state’s largest veterans organizations, clearly violates the spirit of the law and possibly the letter fo the law as well.

Comments wlecome at Foreign and Domestic. Opinions above are mine alone.