A north metro nonprofit helping families of first responders must revamp its policies, including adding a conflict-of-interest policy, after some transactions benefited the organization's leaders, the Minnesota Attorney General's Office said.
The office, which regulates state charitable giving laws, filed an order Wednesday in Ramsey County District Court to require the Minnesota 100 Club to review and add policies and procedures.
Attorney General Keith Ellison's office didn't allege any fraud or criminal wrongdoing at the 51-year-old nonprofit, which provides up to $50,000 to families of first responders seriously injured or killed in the line of duty.
The organization is registered in Blaine and has a post office box in Anoka.
In 2020, its board of directors approved a contract for services from a consulting firm co-owned by Julianne Ortman and Rich Stanek, according to the court order. Ortman, a former Republican state senator, had been hired as Minnesota 100 Club's executive director less than three weeks before the contract was approved while Stanek, a former Hennepin County sheriff, was on the board.
The conflict of interest should've been disclosed in IRS tax filings and to its board, according to court documents. In turn, the board should've determined if the consulting firm, Public Safety Strategies Group LLC, which wasn't registered at the time with the state as a fundraiser, had fees that were fair and reasonable, the documents said. The contract with the firm was later terminated.
The Attorney General's Office noted other instances, including the nonprofit paying Flaire Printing, which is owned by board member Mark Kuzma, and regularly holding meetings at Jax Cafe, which is owned by board member William Kozlak.
The nonprofit cooperated with the state investigation and didn't admit to or deny the allegations in the court order. Executive director Julie Gotham declined to comment Friday.
The Attorney General's charities division, which regulates more than 15,000 charities that solicit donations in Minnesota, generally issues five or fewer of these "assurance of discontinuance" orders a year.
"Organizations that serve the families of those who have sacrificed so much for our state should be held to the highest standards," Ellison said in a statement. "By agreeing to voluntarily change their governance practices, the 100 Minnesota Club will be in a far better position to serve the families of our first responders going forward."