Audit reveals issues with Minnesota’s appointment process for cannabis office

The report concluded the governor’s office made three key errors.

The Minnesota governor’s office deviated from standard procedure in appointing state officials when Gov. Tim Walz named hemp business owner Erin Dupree to lead the newly created Office of Cannabis Management, according to a new report issued this week by the state auditor.

Dupree stepped down from the post just one day after her appointment in September, once conflicts came to light about her hemp store carrying goods that were illegal under state law. The agency has been without leadership since then, leading to the question of how an unqualified candidate like Dupree managed to be named to a high-profile state government job.

The Minnesota state auditor’s office concluded that it was because the governor’s office was too lax in its due diligence with Dupree, and faulted Walz’s office for three major errors, CBS News reported.

First, the state background check didn’t involve the Alcohol and Gambling Division, the Office of the Legislative Auditor said in its report.

Second, Walz’s office sent signed release forms from Dupree to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension instead of to the state Revenue Department, the latter of which is standard procedure.

And third, the audit found that the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension relied on information outside the purview of the Revenue Department.

The end result, the audit concluded, was that Walz named Dupree to the job “without having full and complete information.”

A further review of the governor’s office isn’t warranted, the audit also concluded, but offered suggestions to Walz’s office on how it could improve background checks for future job candidates.

These recommendations include ensuring that the background check includes:

Individual and business tax information
Criminal history
Any outstanding court judgments

In addition, the auditor suggested that any appointment to “sensitive positions” not be approved until the complete background check has been reviewed. In the case of Dupree, the governor’s office relied on a summary instead of the full report.

The Office of the Legislative Auditor also concluded that no further review was necessary, saying it “considers the matter closed.”

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