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“It sounds like something that could potentially be a fairly serious violation of campaign finance law and the ethics rules,” said Bryson Morgan, a former investigative counsel at the Office of Congressional Ethics, who now practices political law at Caplin & Drysdale. “They need to pay fair-market value for any space that the campaign uses.”

The news follows other recent revelations from the news website Minnesota Reformer that portray a congressman frequently skirting the line on congressional ethics. Hagedorn is facing scrutiny for having paid more than $100,000 in taxpayer money to a printing company owned by a staff member; a different company, owned by the brother of his former chief of staff, took in roughly $340,000 in public funds. Hagedorn also drew criticism for appearing on a local radio show hosted by a campaign vendor without disclosing their financial ties.

The allegations of unethical behavior could cost Hagedorn in November. His opponent, Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate Dan Feehan, has made Hagedorn’s “personal corruption” a central theme in his campaign, and polls show a tight race. Feehan lost to Hagedorn by less than half of a percentage point in 2018, even as President Donald Trump carried the district by almost 15 points in 2016. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is now spending heavily on the airwaves to snatch the seat.

Soon after POLITICO published this investigation, Feehan blasted Hagedorn in a statement for “the slow drip of revelations about ethics violations — and potential illegal activity.” Hagedorn’s campaign responded with a Facebook post denying the facts presented in this story, even while seeming to confirm that it had gotten, at the very least, below-market use of space in the building in 2018.

If he does win reelection, Hagedorn may be looking at multiple ethics investigations: A Minneapolis lawyer has filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics over Hagedorn’s congressional office spending, while Hagedorn himself financed an internal review of the spending, fired his former chief of staff and self-reported it to the House Ethics Committee. Neither entity comments on whether probes are ongoing.

A headquarters with no paper trail

The historic Brett’s Building is among downtown Mankato’s premier office spaces — forming with the adjacent Mankato Place mall a sprawling industrial-chic maze of government facilities, restaurants, event halls and a movie theater, with an attached Hilton Garden Inn hugging a bend in the Minnesota River.

It’s also where Hagedorn set up shop for his regional congressional office, distinct from the campaign office, that has cost $2,200 of taxpayer money per month since the beginning of 2019, according to congressional spending records.

The money Hagedorn’s congressional office uses to pay for space on the third floor of the Brett’s Building comes from his taxpayer-funded budget, which he can use only for official expenses. Any use of that district office for campaign purposes or paying for a campaign office with taxpayer money would be illegal. Campaign finance regulations require a strict separation between such funds, so as not to give incumbents an unfair advantage.

“If he gets that basement space as part of the rent he’s paying for his congressional office, then that is arguably illegally using congressional funds to pay for the campaign office,” said Larry Noble, a former top FEC lawyer who now teaches at American University in Washington, D.C.

But even if Hagedorn were currently paying for his campaign office using taxpayer funds, that wouldn’t explain the absence of payments that began before he was elected to Congress in 2018. He first reported using the space in 2013 for a failed congressional run against now-Gov. Tim Walz.

Campaign finance laws state a candidate must pay fair-market rate for all facilities. The office space could also be donated, but then the campaign would have had to disclose to the FEC that the owner of the building gave an “in-kind contribution,” a designation for a donation of goods, services, time or other noncash items. And like normal cash donations, in-kind donations must be limited to $5,600 per election cycle, with half of that designated for a primary and the other half for a general election.

Hagedorn’s campaign has reported no in-kind contributions or payments for office space in any year since his campaign committee formed in 2013.

The one exception to these rules is that any contribution worth less than $200 does not have to be reported. When reached by phone, Thomas Datwyler, who handles finances for Hagedorn’s campaign, said he believes that may have been what happened.

“We were in-kinded, but I think it was under $200. I want to say, it was like a $200 in-kind. So that’s probably why it didn’t show up,” he said. “They basically just took a percentage of the actual space itself, which was very minuscule, and that’s how they calculated it out. And that’s why they got to be like 200 bucks for the entire year. Honestly, I’m pretty positive.”

Datwyler said he would clarify the issue and respond with more information, but he did not do so and did not return subsequent calls and messages about the issue.

The explanation also would suggest Hagedorn’s campaign is paying well below market rate. The average tenant in the building pays rent of $8 to $27 per month per square foot, according to a floor plan and pitch by the building’s manager obtained by POLITICO. By those costs, Hagedorn’s campaign office would have had to be no larger than a few square feet to be worth only $200 over the course of two years. The floor plan shows Suite 7 is significantly larger than that, with an entry room opening into two back rooms.

The claim is further undercut by the fact that the campaign has previously reported in-kind donations as small as $114.75.

Finally, failing to disclose this specific in-kind donation would probably be a violation of campaign finance law because the person who owned the building, Gordon Awsumb, has already been a big donor to Hagedorn. If all he gave was a small in-kind donation, it wouldn’t have to be reported, but since he’s donated more than $200 in cash during the past several elections, the FEC would require the campaign to disclose in-kind contributions of any value whatsoever from him.

A key donor, with shifting explanations

For most of the years Hagedorn listed that address as his campaign headquarters, the Brett’s Building was owned by Awsumb, a local developer who rehabbed the structure after Brett’s Department Store, there since 1868, shuttered in 1991.

Awsumb has given more than $8,500 to Hagedorn’s campaign since 2015, including $4,300 this election cycle — all listed as cash donations, not in-kind contributions. That opens up the possibility of yet another violation: In-kind donations reflecting the true value of the office space could put Awsumb over the legal contribution limit, meaning the campaign would have to return some money to him.

When initially reached by phone, Awsumb said he has moved to Texas and doesn’t know much about the Hagedorn campaign office, even though he is still listed as the management contact for the building.

When asked whether the campaign uses a space in the basement, he replied, “Not any longer, I don’t think. Basically, he stored signs there.”

When asked why there have been no rent payments, he replied: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

But in follow-up emails, Awsumb had a different story to tell. He said the campaign actually never had an office in the building and that a Suite 7 never existed.

“The Hagedorn Campaign does not now and has never in the past leased office space in the Mankato Place Complex/Brett’s building,” Awsumb said via email. “No rent-free office space has been provided to the Hagedorn Campaign. In fact, Suite 7 does not exist as a physical office location within the building.”

In its Facebook post after the story was published, Hagedorn’s campaign echoed Awsumb, saying that Suite 7 never existed: “no physical location is tied to that address. Suite 007 is not office space.”

However, a July 2018 GOP invite instructed volunteers to arrive at the “Hagedorn Campaign Office; 11 Civic Center Drive; Suite 007; Mankato.” And over the course of several months that year, from at least July to September, a number of photos posted on various social media accounts and news outlets show Hagedorn in an office outfitted with cubicle dividers and a couch, its bare stone walls lined with Hagedorn campaign signs and a cardboard standee of the late President Ronald Reagan. According to Roll Call, his campaign office included a framed portrait of Trump. Hagedorn’s own Twitter account identified the place as “Hagedorn Headquarters in Makato.”

When presented by email before publication of this story with that information, Awsumb said the room is an “unfinished storage room and was never leased as an office suite to any tenant.” He said the Hagedorn campaign did use a conference room that is available to tenants and community groups.


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“This is provided as part of the lease for the tenants and typically for no fee for community groups,” he said. “The Hagedorn Campaign did make use of that space in 2018. Our records show that the Hagedorn Campaign did pay a fee for the use of that community conference space.”

The campaign, in its Facebook post after the story published, also confirmed it had used what it described as “unfurnished space in the basement of the old Brett’s Building from March 2018 through November 7, 2018.”

“We paid the owner $100 and listed that on our FEC report. Case closed,” the campaign wrote.

However, FEC files do not show any fee paid by the Hagedorn campaign for use of that space in 2018 or any other year, and the campaign did not provide proof of the disclosure. Furthermore, $100 for the use of a space for nine months appears to be well below market rate. For instance, Minnesota spending records show the Blue Earth County Republican Party paid $100 per month for its half of a space in the complex shared with another local Republican group.

Finally, Awsumb said Hagedorn merely used Suite 7 as a mailing address and was given permission to do so by the county organization. However, the ex-officio chairwoman of the group said she never agreed to allow Hagedorn to use any space.

“The [Hagedorn] campaign office was down in the basement, I believe, the lower level of the Brett’s building,” said Willa Dailey. “In fact, our treasurer is such a stickler that we did not even allow use of our space for anything campaign-related. You can’t mix federal with state.”

Another former chairman of the county Republicans, Minnesota state Rep. Jeremy Munson, said Hagedorn’s campaign has never had an office in the building, but has made use of a community conference room and a P.O. box.

“I know that they have a P.O. box there,” Munson said. “A lot of people have P.O. boxes there, and I don’t think Gordon charges people to have a P.O. box to get their mail delivered there.”

That was Hagedorn’s explanation on Facebook, too. However, directories of the building posted online and in the lobby of the building show a Suite 007, indicating that at least at some point in time, it did exist as a physical space in the building. The address is also notably listed as a suite number, not a P.O. box address.

But even if it was a P.O. box address, Hagedorn’s campaign would have had to pay fair market rate for it and even for the temporary use of space to hold campaign events, according to campaign finance laws. And that would almost certainly be more than $200 over the course of an election. The UPS Store in Mankato, for instance, charges a minimum of $25 per month for their P.O. boxes.

House spending records show rent payments for Hagedorn’s congressional district office were made in 2019 to Awsumb’s company, Minnesota Office Investments Inc., and in 2020 to Mankato Place 1 LLC, a company that bought the building for $12 million from Awsumb last year.

Mankato Place 1 LLC is registered in Delaware and doesn’t disclose its ownership. Awsumb declined to say who owns the company.

A contact number listed for Mankato Place 1 LLC, however, reached Mike Kahler, another regional businessman who is a partner with Awsumb in the planned construction of a Marriott Spring Hill Resort in Mankato, according to the Mankato Free Press.

“Everyone in our building pays rent as far as I know,” Kahler said. “I’ll have to dig into it and get back to you.”

Kahler did not circle back, nor did he respond to subsequent phone calls. But Ronald Groth, a Minneapolis-based lawyer who was listed as Mankato Place 1 LLC’s counsel when it bought the Brett’s Building, said in a statement that Hagedorn does not have a campaign office there.

“Although Jim Hagedorn has his congressional office in the premises owned by Mankato Place 1, LLC, Congressman Hagedorn has never had a campaign office in the premises during the time that Mankato Place 1, LLC has owned the property,” he said.

Neither Mankato Place 1 LLC, Minnesota Office Investments Inc., Awsumb, Kahler — nor anyone else for that matter — have been recipients of rent payments from Hagedorn’s campaign, according to FEC records, and the campaign has not disclosed any in-kind contributions from those people or their companies, or any other in-kind contributions for office rent.

The campaign has paid periodic “campaign event fees” from 2017 to 2020 to the Minnesota Republican Party, which is chaired by Hagedorn’s wife, Jennifer Carnahan. Could an explanation be that Hagedorn paid the state party, which then paid for the office? Not according to FEC records, which show the state GOP has not paid any fees to any companies associated with the building.

Carnahan has been weathering some scandals of her own lately, as the party’s executive director resigned with no explanation and records revealed Carnahan had asked for private guided tours from the National Park Service as a congressman’s wife.

Empty offices and lingering questions

Members of Congress who get free or cheap rent is one of those campaign finance violations that pop up from time to time. But the mystery of Hagedorn’s campaign office is deepened by the fact that Hagedorn’s office doesn’t seem to actually be at the address listed on official FEC files — at least, not anymore.

An FEC filing as recent as September lists 11 Civic Center Plaza, Suite 7 as Hagedorn’s campaign office, and his campaign spokeswoman Rachael Grooms confirmed this month it is the campaign’s office. She did not respond to subsequent emails asking about any payments made for using Suite 7. Hagedorn’s campaign manager, Lon Firchau, also did not return a voicemail left on his cellphone.

Yet a visit to the Brett’s Building revealed that, much like the fading department store sign on the three-story building, Hagedorn’s campaign office is a ghost.

The basement now has a Suite 8 and a Suite 6, but no Suite 7. A janitorial worker, who did not want to be quoted by name, said Hagedorn used to have a campaign office in the basement, but it has now been absorbed into Suite 11, which is home to Options for Women, a counseling service that exists to dissuade women from having abortions.

The worker said a postal delivery person also recently came looking for Suite 7, but with no luck. The worker said she thinks Hagedorn moved into a Blue Earth County Republican Party office in the adjacent Mankato Place mall.

A worker in Hagedorn’s district office on the third floor directed a reporter to an office in a neighboring building that is occupied by Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee of Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee.

Both the county GOP and Trump Victory offices were empty and messages left on listed phone numbers were not returned.

A call made to a number listed on the Hagedorn campaign’s Facebook page was returned by a Virginia man who identified himself as Charles Harvey, whose name and phone number are linked to a foundation that exists to help noncitizen U.S. military veterans apply for citizenship.

He said he’s just a longtime friend of Hagedorn’s who uses a Google Voice number to take messages and forward them to the campaign. He said he doesn’t know where the office is and doesn’t live in Minnesota.

Morgan, the congressional ethics expert, said all this makes for an incredibly confusing situation, as well as another potential FEC violation; providing a false address to the agency would also be illegal.

“The question of where a member of Congress’ campaign office is located and what they are paying for that office should not be a mystery that takes weeks of investigative reporting to track down with conflicting, and sort of confusing, answers,” Morgan said. “It’s odd that there is not a straightforward answer to what is a very simple question.”

Deena Winter contributed to this report.



Queen sits alone at funeral for Prince Philip to set example





Other royals who are in family bubbles are sitting together.

The service began with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby entering the chapel ahead of the coffin, followed by Philip’s children and three of his eight grandchildren, as a four-member choir sang “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Inside the Gothic chapel, the setting for centuries of royal weddings and funerals, the service was to be simple and somber. There will be no sermon, at Philip’s request, and no family eulogies or readings, in keeping with royal tradition. But Dean of Windsor David Conner will say the country has been enriched by Philip’s “unwavering loyalty to our queen, by his service to the nation and the Commonwealth, by his courage, fortitude and faith.”


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Philip spent almost 14 years in the Royal Navy and saw action in the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific during World War II. Several elements of his funeral have a maritime theme, including the hymn “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,” which is associated with seafarers and asks God: “O hear us when we cry to thee/For those in peril on the sea.”

Along with Philip’s children and grandchildren, the 30 funeral guests include other senior royals and several of his German relatives. Philip was born a prince of Greece and Denmark and, like the queen, is related to a thicket of European royal families.

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FBI says it interviewed FedEx mass shooter last year





The shooter was identified as Brandon Scott Hole, 19, of Indianapolis, Deputy Police Chief Craig McCartt told a news conference. Investigators searched a home in Indianapolis associated with Hole and seized evidence, including desktop computers and other electronic media, McCartt said.

Hole began firing randomly at people in the parking lot of the FedEx facility late Thursday, killing four, before entering the building, fatally shooting four more people and then turning the gun on himself, McCartt said. He said he did not know if Hole owned the gun legally.

“There was no confrontation with anyone that was there,” he said. “There was no disturbance, there was no argument. He just appeared to randomly start shooting.”

McCartt said the slayings took place in a matter of minutes, and that there were at least 100 people in the facility at the time. Many were changing shifts or were on their dinner break, he said. Several people were wounded, including five who were taken to the hospital.

“You deserved so much better than this,” a man who identified himself as the grandson of Johal tweeted Friday evening. Johal had planned to work a double shift Thursday so she could take Friday off, according to the grandson, who would not give his full name but identifies himself as “Komal” on his Twitter page. Johal later decided to grab her check and go home, and still had the check in her hand when police found her, Komal said.

“(What) a harsh and cruel world we live in,” he added.

Smith, the youngest of the victims, was last in contact with her family shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday, family members said in social media posts late Friday. Dominique Troutman, Smith’s sister, waited hours at the Holiday Inn for an update on her sister. “Words can’t even explain how I feel. … I’m so hurt,” Troutman said in a Facebook post Friday night.

Weisert had been working as a bag handler at FedEx for four years, his wife, Carol, told WISH-TV. The couple was married nearly 50 years.

President Joe Biden said he had been briefed on the shooting and called gun violence “an epidemic” in the U.S.

“Too many Americans are dying every single day from gun violence. It stains our character and pierces the very soul of our nation,” he said in a statement. Later, he tweeted, “We can, and must, do more to reduce gun violence and save lives.”

A FedEx employee said he was working inside the building Thursday night when he heard several gunshots in rapid succession.

“I see a man come out with a rifle in his hand and he starts firing and he starts yelling stuff that I could not understand,” Levi Miller told WTHR-TV. “What I ended up doing was ducking down to make sure he did not see me because I thought he would see me and he would shoot me.”

Paul Keenan, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis field office, said Friday that agents questioned Hole last year after his mother called police to say that her son might commit “suicide by cop.” He said the FBI was called after items were found in Hole’s bedroom but he did not elaborate on what they were. He said agents found no evidence of a crime and that they did not identify Hole as espousing a racially motivated ideology. A police report obtained by The Associated Press shows that officers seized a pump-action shotgun from Hole’s home after responding to the mother’s call. Keenan said the gun was never returned.


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McCartt said Hole was a former employee of FedEx and last worked for the company in 2020. The deputy police chief said he did not know why Hole left the job or if he had ties to the workers in the facility. He said police have not yet uncovered a motive for the shooting.

Police Chief Randal Taylor noted that a “significant” number of employees at the FedEx facility are members of the Sikh community, and the Sikh Coalition later issued a statement saying it was “sad to confirm” that at least four of those killed were community members.

The coalition, which identifies itself as the largest Sikh civil rights organization in the U.S., said in the statement that it expected authorities to “conduct a full investigation — including the possibility of bias as a factor.”

Varun Nikore, executive director of the AAPI Victory Alliance, a national advocacy group for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, said in a statement that the shootings marked “yet another senseless massacre that has become a daily occurrence in this country.”

Nikore remarked that gun violence in the U.S. “is reflective of all of the spineless politicians who are beholden to the gun lobby.”

FedEx Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Frederick Smith called the shooting a “senseless act of violence.”

“This is a devastating day, and words are hard to describe the emotions we all feel,” he wrote in an email to employees.

The killings marked the latest in a string of recent mass shootings across the country and the third mass shooting this year in Indianapolis. Five people, including a pregnant woman, were shot and killed in the city in January, and a man was accused of killing three adults and a child before abducting his daughter during at argument at a home in March. In other states last month, eight people were fatally shot at massage businesses in the Atlanta area, and 10 died in gunfire at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said the community must guard against resignation and “the assumption that this is simply how it must be and we might as well get used to it.”

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Gaetz ex-girlfriend feared alleged sex-trafficking victim taped call for feds





Gaetz’s former girlfriend has played a bit role in the unfolding public drama — she is the woman who sent the lawmaker a nude video of her performing a hula hoop dance that he showed to other members of Congress.

But two of her friends, who declined to be identified publicly because of the sensational nature of the case, say she now suspects she was being set up when the alleged victim and another woman involved in the case called her to discuss the lawmaker in what she fears might have been a recorded conference call. The call took place sometime after Greenberg was indicted for the sex crime in August.

The friends did not provide details about exactly what was discussed, but one recounted that Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend said she was opposed to talking to authorities and is now worried that prosecutors might try to charge her with obstructing justice in order to get to Gaetz.

Tim Jansen, an attorney for Gaetz’s former girlfriend, declined to comment about his client. Greenberg’s lawyer, Fritz Scheller, also declined to talk. Gaetz has strongly denied allegations he engaged in any sex crimes.

The three women on the call were all present on a September 2018 trip to the Bahamas that authorities think may shed light on the allegations against Gaetz. Also present on that trip: Gaetz and two other Florida Republican political players, former Orlando-area aviation authority member and Gov. Ron DeSantis fundraiser Jason Pirozzolo and former state Rep. Halsey Beshears.

POLITICO is withholding the names of the women who went to the Bahamas, including his ex-girlfriend, because of the sensitive nature of the case and the allegations that while there, some of the women engaged in prostitution.

As the investigation intensified this winter, Beshears abruptly resigned in January as Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary — a post that made him the state’s top business regulator — noting he had contracted Covid-19. About that time, federal authorities seized the iPhones of Gaetz and his former girlfriend.

Federal authorities are examining the Bahamas trip to see if it violated the Mann Act, which forbids transporting people across state lines to engage in prostitution. One woman on the trip told POLITICO that no one engaged in prostitution.

The alleged victim in the sex-trafficking case had turned 18 almost nine months before the Bahamas trip. But Gaetz has acknowledged he’s the subject of a federal investigation into whether he had improper involvement with her as a 17-year-old.

A source familiar with the investigation wouldn’t say whether the alleged victim was cooperating with authorities. But when asked if she has been talking for months with the federal government, the source said “100 percent.”

While the alleged sex-trafficking victim is key to the case against Greenberg and the allegations against Gaetz, the lawmaker’s ex-girlfriend could play a pivotal role in the investigation of the trip, as well as other related controversies.

Gaetz was criticized for allegedly showing the hula hoop video to congressional colleagues, and he was also accused of engaging in revenge porn against his former girlfriend. But two of her friends say the woman, in her early 20s, did not object to him showing it to friends — provided he didn’t send it to others or post it on social media — because she was proud of her appearance and performance.


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“This is the best I will ever look in my life,” a friend who saw the video recalled her saying. “That’s how she is. It’s not revenge porn.”

The former girlfriend first met Gaetz while she attended college in the Orlando area in 2017. Greenberg, who established contact with her on the SeekingArrangement website — a dating website that connects women with so-called sugar daddies — made the connection. Soon after, she began dating Gaetz, although the relationship was not exclusive, friends said.

Gaetz later got her a job interning in the office of another Republican member of Congress, but that member let her go when it was discovered she was a Democrat, according to Democratic Rep. Darren Soto of Orlando, who promptly hired her when Gaetz told him of the matter.

Soto, who is not involved in the investigation, would not name the Republican lawmaker or comment about the case. But he said the woman was a hard worker in his office and that he had no complaints about her, other than some inquiries about whether Gaetz’s relationship with the intern was inappropriate.

“We wanted to protect her privacy from the media. She was just an intern,” Soto said. “I’ll also say she was fired by a Republican for being a Democrat. I found it offensive that she was fired for her political beliefs.”

Gaetz and the ex-girlfriend continued to date until well after the Bahamas trip in 2018. Friends said the two remained on good terms, although she was a source of friction between the lawmaker and Beshears. Beshears had apparently been taking her out on dates in Tallahassee, including a trip to the Florida State University president’s skybox at Doak Campbell Stadium, mutual friends said.

At the time, Beshears had recently been left by another girlfriend after she learned about the Bahamas trip. Beshears, then a state legislator, had flown several of the women on his private plane, which was briefly detained by U.S. Customs upon its return to Florida for questioning about the ages of several of the young women on the trip.

“Here was Halsey with three young women who could have been his daughters, and a Customs agent was like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on here?‘” said a source who was familiar with the incident.

Speaking to the partying group and the drama surrounding them, a different mutual friend said: “Tallahassee is like high school. But no one ever graduates.”

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