Yesterday, Minnesota's right blogosphere was all a-twitter over Tom Lyden's Fox 9 story, State worker accused of drivers license, Social Security fraud:
One day after the FOX 9 Investigators reported that as many as 24,000 Minnesota drivers licenses may be frauds, a state employee working in Secretary of State Mark Ritchie's department appeared in court to face charges that she fraudulently obtained a drivers license and housing assistance.
The irony of the indictment was not lost on Minnesota Majority, the group campaigning for the amendment. Ritchie, however, is out of state and has been unavailable for comment.
In Bluestem's reading about the case, we noticed that Oluremi George was reported to have worked for the State of Minnesota for seven years. Since 2012-7 = 2005, we wondered who had hired her and whether she had always worked in the Secretary of State's office.
That question is answered in a couple of articles in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Yesterday, Elisabeth Mohr reported in State employee indicted on federal fraud charges:
Using the Ayoola name, George was hired by then-Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer in 2005 as a temporary office specialist. In 2006, she was promoted to administrative specialist, according to Pat Turgeon, spokeswoman for the office.
Ayoola remains officially employed as a clerical employee in the business services division, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie's office said in a news release.
Ritchie said in the release: "As soon as the indictment was unsealed, the office took immediate steps to ensure that all of our systems were protected. Yesterday, this office provided information to the Washington County attorney regarding Ms. George using her false government-issued driver's license to register to vote and vote in 2004 and 2008, which would be additional felony violations of state law."
She was hired in 2005 by the Minnesota Secretary of State's office as a clerical staffer under the Ayoola name.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie issued a statement Tuesday, July 17, applauding law enforcement's efforts to stop identity fraud and said his office had notified the Washington County attorney's office that George used the Ayoola name to vote in 2004 and 2008.
But Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said Wednesday he would not pursue additional charges against George, citing a three-year statute of limitations.
These facts raise some questions for former Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer.
1. This person was hired and then promoted by Mary Kiffmeyer. Does she or or her chief staff Kent Kaiser know if there was some special reason why George was hired?
2. Why was George promoted during the Kiffmeyer administration? Were there any special reasons why George was promoted?
3. George voted illegally under Secretary Kiffmeyer's watch in 2004. Did Kiffmeyer know this and ignore it, or was she not aware of the vote? What measures did she have in place to address this sort of fraud? As Steve Drazkowski asked of Mark Ritchie, did this woman run the state's voter data base?
We know from a press release issued by Ritchie's office that George's job was clerical assistant in the business services office, located in a completely different location from all elections staff. Information about her responsibilities under Secretary Kiffmeyer could be obtained by calling her directly. Perhaps the conservative bloggers attacking Mark Ritchie could give Mary Kiffmeyer a call.
4. According to another Fox9 report:
As uncovered by the FOX 9 Investigators, there are nearly 24,000 Minnesota drivers licenses that may be cases of possible fraud. Those cases were discovered by facial recognition software that electronically compared photos in the Department of Vehicles Services data bank of 11 million photos. That facial recognition scrub was conducted in 2008, paid for with a federal grant.
This scan occurred during former Governor Pawlenty's watch. Why was no action taken about the possible fraud? Was the inaction related to his run for President?
Bluestem is looking into the recent past politics in Minnesota of using biometrics. Fascinating reading indeed.
Photo: Did what Mary Kiffmeyer know (or not know) about her office's hire make her smile so? Photo: Paul Schmelzer, Minnesota Independent.Between the lines in Quist FEC Q2 2012 report: $4000 to Al Travis Theilfoldt
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