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Minneapolis senator faces ethics charges

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Republicans say Sen. Jeff Hayden, D-Minneapolis, breached Senate rules and demand that he go in front of an ethics committee. GOP senators say Hayden used his influence as a lawmaker to convince the Minneapolis School Board ...

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Republicans say Sen. Jeff Hayden, D-Minneapolis, breached Senate rules and demand that he go in front of an ethics committee.

GOP senators say Hayden used his influence as a lawmaker to convince the Minneapolis School Board to approve a $375,000 contract with “an organization that financially benefited his friends and family members.” They also claim Hayden, a deputy Senate majority leader, was involved in the misuse of state money when he was board member of Community Action of Minneapolis, which recently has been accused of spending public funds lavishly.

“I am shocked that a sitting state senator would dare to threaten his local school board and use his elected office as a vehicle for extortion," Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie said Wednesday. "Minneapolis school kids shouldn’t have to suffer a loss of state funding because their senator is a bully."

Added Sen. Dan Hall, R-Burnsville: “This is another example of the arrogance of the Democrats in Minnesota, and especially Minneapolis, where one party control rules the day. They need to be held accountable.”

An ethics hearing could come before the Nov. 4 election.

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Hayden had little to say, but did release a statement: "I look forward to resolving this matter before the subcommittee on ethical conduct as soon as possible. A thorough review of the facts will demonstrate clearly that my conduct was lawful and ethical and in no way violated the rules or norms of the Senate."

He earlier said that he did not benefit from Community Action funds and said he knew nothing about the allegations before they became public in recent days.

The Community Action complaint comes on the heels of reports that the organization misused federal, state and local funds on trips and other perks. While Hayden was appointed to the board, his wife was the one to take part in meetings. He now has resigned from the board.

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