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Monday, May 21, 2007

More on Julianne Ortman/Rich Stanek Scam in the Strib

State Sen. Julianne Ortman said Monday she would strongly consider taking a leave of absence next year from her job as chief financial manager for the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office when the Legislature is in session, and said she was doing "my best" currently to juggle both jobs.

Ortman's comments came two days after the Star Tribune detailed her acceptance of the $91,000 county job in early April and her efforts to balance her new position with her Senate duties during the final weeks of the session. County and Senate records show that Ortman worked long hours with the county on days the Senate was meeting and missed some Senate committee meetings and floor sessions.

Ortman said that Senate records, cited in the Star Tribune story, mistakenly indicated that she was present at the start of a Senate floor session on May 11 during the same time she claimed pay for doing work for the county.

County records show she was working from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. that day. Senate records show the day's floor session began at 9:20 a.m. and do not show Ortman being excused for any part of it.

Ortman said she had arrived at the Senate by approximately 11 a.m. from a sheriff's office meeting -- in time to cast the day's first vote -- and said she makes sure to be excused only if she is missing a vote. Chief Deputy Stephany Good confirmed that Ortman attended a meeting with her that morning.

It would be interesting to get calendar records to confirm this. That meeting could have been at 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM allowing Ortman to get the the Senate.

The Strib also talks with Stanek:

Stanek, a former Republican legislator and a political ally of Ortman's, said Monday that there was no consideration of whether her hiring would appear to be motivated by politics, and said that it would be Ortman's decision whether she should take a leave of absence from the job when the Legislature meets next year.

"She balances and does a great job," said Stanek.

In addition, both Ortman and Stanek said there was no conflict when she co-authored proposed legislation -- spear-headed by Hennepin County -- that would provide $1.5 million for a multi-agency violent offender task force in late February. Her co-authorship came nine days before the application period for the chief financial manager job began. The legislation was later defeated.

"I think she's uniquely qualified" for the county job, Stanek said. "She's done an exceptional job."

Still Developing...