Former Ed. Dept. official under scrutiny for outside contractsby Tom Weber, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — State officials are investigating a former top Education Department official for her role in negotiating a state contract.
Chas Anderson was the No. 2 person in the department until she resigned last month.
Minnesota Management & Budget, the state's budget office, confirms that it has received a complaint against Anderson and is looking into that complaint.
Anderson left the Minnesota Department of Education last month after more than six years as deputy commissioner.
The budget office won't say what the complaint is about, but Legislative Auditor James Nobles says it has to do with state contracts.
"It's my understanding they concern Miss Anderson's involvement in negotiation of contracts with companies that she may now have a business affiliation with," he said.
Nobles says his office was also made aware of the allegations and is looking into the matter, but might wait until the budget office's investigation is done.
"We are monitoring that, and will use the results of that, in part, as a basis to determine whether we will conduct an investigation as well," he said.
Nobles wouldn't say what the business affiliations are that are at the center of the contract review.
Anderson released a statement late Tuesday afternoon in which she said she was proud of her work at the Department. "I am confident that I will be cleared in the examination of this complaint, and look forward to continuing my work to improve student achievement in Minnesota and across the country," she added.
MPR News has learned Anderson does have at least one consulting arrangement. A spokeswoman for a Texas-based group called the National Science and Math Initiative confirms Anderson is a consultant. Anderson spoke at that group's conference in May.
She's listed on the program as being the Alumni Network Director for that group. Her positition as deputy commissioner is not mentioned in the program, even though she was still employed as Deputy Education Commissioner.
That conference was held in late May. A spokesman for the state's budget office says Anderson's last day working for the state was June 4.
State officials say if holding a second job created a conflict of interest, that would be reviewed -- but state law doesn't unilaterally ban a state employee from holding a second job.
Anderson ranked second only to Commissioner Alice Seagren at the agency but often spoke on behalf of the department at workshops and other events.
Anderson worked on Tim Pawlenty's campaign staff during his first run for governor in 2002, which earned her the political appointment at the education department. She's worked under two commissioners -- Cheri Yecke and Alice Seagren.
The governor's office and state education department both declined to comment.
- All Things Considered, 07/27/2010, 5:22 p.m.