FBI investigates Minneapolis DFL endorsement process

The FBI is looking into alleged election irregularities surrounding the Minneapolis DFL endorsement process leading up to last year’s City Council elections, according to two people who have been interviewed by investigators. The FBI’s interest follows an election cycle for all 13 council seats. During the endorsement process, two council wards were beset by allegations of impropriety and a third featured a near-brawl at the endorsing convention. The scope of the FBI’s inquiry remains unclear; the agency doesn’t typically discuss investigations or lines of inquiry, and an FBI spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon. The inquiry was first reported by the Minnesota Reformer on Friday morning. Both people told the Star Tribune Friday that FBI personnel interviewed them in the months after the November election. They said they were asked such questions as how the basic mechanics of the party endorsement process works and how that process could be exploited. In the DFL-dominated city of Minneapolis, the endorsement of the Minneapolis Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party is often the most important seal of approval a candidate can earn — even though it carries no legal weight. The process, however, isn’t governed by state or federal laws, but by party rules, same as endorsing processes of other parties. In some instances, investigators suggested they might also be looking at whether potential problems in Minneapolis could have occurred outside the city, because the structure of the endorsement process is set by the state party. One of those interviewed said investigators also showed an interest in potential evidence of impropriety in Election Day voting. The investigators asked about potential violations of civil rights, as well as possible corruption. But both people said it was unclear how far along the inquiry was or whether officials planned to press charges against anyone. Both people spoke on condition they not be identified. One was left with the impression the FBI did not want the person speaking publicly; the other expressed being uncomfortable publicly discussing a non-public FBI matter. The FBI investigators had read news accounts of alleged impropriety but had not found a clear account of how those allegations had been adjudicated by the local or state party — if at all — and they wanted to follow up themselves, both people said. The allegations Here’s a summary of the publicly reported allegations of impropriety during the endorsement process: In Ward 6, candidate Kayseh Magan accused opponent Tiger Worku of juicing his delegate count by inventing email addresses for delegates that someone else could use to vote in their place. Worku denied the allegation. Under the specter of those allegations and lacking a Somali interpreter, that endorsing convention was cut short and never finished. Council Member Jamal Osman, who has ties to people investigated in the federal Feeding Our Future probe of misspent federal COVID funds, won that election. In Ward 5, the executive committee of the Minneapolis DFL refused to accept more than 350 delegates for Victor Martinez, who challenged Council Member Jeremiah Ellison. Martinez could not produce original paperwork with the delegates’ signatures when the party requested it; he denied any wrongdoing. Martinez and Ellison agreed to cancel the endorsing convention. Ellison won the election. In Ward 10, the endorsing convention was adjourned in chaos after supporters of candidate Nasri Warsame stormed the stage as Council Member Aisha Chughtai was preparing to speak. The state DFL banned Warsame from ever seeking the party endorsement.

This content was originally published here.

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