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Hagedorn under investigation by House Ethics Committee

Spending controversy from last year continues to haunt GOP congressman.

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U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn speaks at a Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, July 7, 2021, at La Crescent Area Event Center in La Crescent. (Traci Westcott /twestcott@postbulletin.com)
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WASHINGTON — Congressman Jim Hagedorn is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee, website Roll Call reported Tuesday.

Hagedorn is one of four House members under investigation. His case was investigated by the nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics, which found that there was substantial reason to believe that a violation had occurred, Roll Call reported. The Office of Congressional Ethics is a fact-finding office and, unlike the Ethics Committee, cannot discipline members or issue subpoenas.

The other three members under investigation are Republicans Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania and Alex X. Mooney of West Virginia, and Democrat Tom Malinowski of New Jersey.

The Hagedorn investigation stems from large expenditures from his office on taxpayer-funded constituent mailings. An investigation by the Minnesota Reformer found that money for the mailings went to two firms, both of which had connections with Hagedorn's office.

One was part-owned by a part-time staffer. The other had ties to Hagedorn's then-chief of staff, Peter Su. Su was also connected to the part-time staffer through their work for Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. Hagedorn fired Su.

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Hagedorn denied being aware of the spending irregularities, saying the "relatively routine duties" had been delegated to his chief of staff. But he acknowledged responsibility for oversight of his office, and pledged to make "any necessary management improvements."

In the midst of the controversy ahead of the 2020 election, Hagedorn hired Elliot Berke, a prominent Republican attorney, who conducted an internal review that stated that Hagedorn took immediate action once he became aware of the problem.

At the conclusion of the review, Hagedorn expressed the hope of putting the controversy behind him.

"Congressman Hagedorn personally self-reported this matter to the Ethics Committee last year and will continue working with it to bring it to an appropriate conclusion," Berke said in a statement to the Post Bulletin. "The fact that the OCE, which provides non-binding recommendations to the Ethics Committee, decided to investigate something that was already under review was a waste of taxpayer funds and House resources."

Matthew Stolle has been a Post Bulletin reporter since 2000 and covered many of the beats that make up a newsroom. In his first several years, he covered K-12 education and higher education in Rochester before shifting to politics. He has also been a features writer. Today, Matt jumps from beat to beat, depending on what his editor and the Rochester area are producing in terms of news. Readers can reach Matthew at 507-281-7415 or mstolle@postbulletin.com.
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