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Jennifer Bjorhus

Reporter | Watchdog and data team
phone: 612-673-4683
Jennifer Bjorhus is an investigative reporter on the Star Tribune’s watchdog and data team. Got a tip? Contact me at 612-673-4683 or jennifer.bjorhus@startribune.com.
Recent content from Jennifer Bjorhus

Exploring the legal trade in at-risk wildlife

This is not the highly publicized, illicit trafficking in such goods as ivory and rhino horns. Millions of vulnerable wildlife specimens are legally admitted through U.S. customs each year.
Lion trophies just a drop in vast exotic species trade

Lion trophies just a drop in vast exotic species trade

Vulnerable but coveted, animals and plants at risk of being endangered are traded into the U.S. every year, and it’s completely legal.
Lion hunter zealously guards his Minnesota hunting land

Lion hunter zealously guards his Minnesota hunting land

Long before he was accused of poaching an African lion named Cecil, Walter Palmer was stalking suspected poachers on his private hunting land in northwestern Minnesota.
Zimbabwe prosecutors: We're waiting on the police

Zimbabwe prosecutors: We're waiting on the police

Extradition moves slowly; Walter Palmer’s whereabouts a mystery a month after shooting research lion Cecil.
Zimbabwe wants quick extradition of Twin Cities lion hunter

Zimbabwe wants quick extradition of Twin Cities lion hunter

On Monday, Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer said that "everything is just fine,” but he refused to disclose his whereabouts.
Twin Cities dentist says he wants to cooperate with hunting inquiry

Twin Cities dentist says he wants to cooperate with hunting inquiry

U.S. wildlife officials say a representative for Walter Palmer contacted the agency late Thursday, before wildlife authorities in Zimbabwe called for his extradition to their country.
Zimbabwe official: Extradition sought for Twin Cities man who killed lion

Zimbabwe official: Extradition sought for Twin Cities man who killed lion

"Unfortunately it was too late to apprehend the foreign poacher as he had already absconded to his country of origin," Zimbabwe's wildlife minister said at a Friday news conference.
Americans hunting in foreign countries subject to few U.S. laws

Americans hunting in foreign countries subject to few U.S. laws

Minnesota trophy hunter Walter Palmer is being severely judged in the court of public opinion, but he appears unlikely to face prosecution in the U.S.
Blood transplant slowdown a challenge for Be the Match

Blood transplant slowdown a challenge for Be the Match

Entrepreneurial nonprofit is struggling to contain rising expenses
$300K outhouse upgrade illustrates quiet Iron Range deals

$300K outhouse upgrade illustrates quiet Iron Range deals

Iron Range legislator says it’s needed, but neighbors question use of state funds.
Savers stores settle Minn. lawsuit, will modify donations practices

Savers stores settle Minn. lawsuit, will modify donations practices

Accused of duping the public, the international thrift store chain agrees to change its practices.
Archdiocese moves to hire Joseph Dixon III for special criminal defense

Archdiocese moves to hire Joseph Dixon III for special criminal defense

The fees for Joseph Dixon III, despite a ‘substantial discount,’ will add to mounting bills for archdiocese; no offers yet for real estate.
Iron Range solar deal generating cash and controversy

Iron Range solar deal generating cash and controversy

Some call Silicon Energy rebates a win, while others cry foul.
Minnesota AG sues Epilepsy Foundation over link to Savers

Minnesota AG sues Epilepsy Foundation over link to Savers

The lawsuit accuses the foundation of misleading the public about the extent to which the used goods they donate to Savers thrift stores actually benefit the charity.
Minnesota AG sues Savers thrift store chain over charity claims

Minnesota AG sues Savers thrift store chain over charity claims

Attorney General Lori Swanson said the for-profit retailer makes misleading claims about how much donated clothes and merchandise benefits charities.

Minnesota auditor questions lawmakers' handling of taconite tax money

Report to the Legislature notes there is ‘‘inadequate oversight’’ by lawmakers.
March 4: Laws governing Iron Range loans are 'sketchy,' watchdog says

March 4: Laws governing Iron Range loans are 'sketchy,' watchdog says

A state agency’s support of a company devoted to Democratic fundraising and campaigns is generating criticism, but it might not run afoul of state law.
March 12: Bill would prohibit state agencies from financing partisan politics

March 12: Bill would prohibit state agencies from financing partisan politics

Iron Range agency’s loans to call center for DFL spurred inquiry and demand for restrictions.
March 2: Publicly funded Iron Range board is deep into DFL politics, policy

March 2: Publicly funded Iron Range board is deep into DFL politics, policy

An obscure state agency lent $625,000 to a call center that raises money for Democratic candidates.
April 5: State-subsidized Giants Ridge ski resort has lost $40M in past 30 years

April 5: State-subsidized Giants Ridge ski resort has lost $40M in past 30 years

During the 30 years it’s been owned by a state agency, Giants Ridge has never made money. In the past decade, those losses have totaled almost $40 million. A $12 million chalet is the next addition.
Legislative auditor will investigate Range agency

Legislative auditor will investigate Range agency

The investigation into the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board follows Star Tribune stories about the agency’s spending.
July 28, 2013: Ameriprise CEO Cracchiolo pockets a quiet windfall

July 28, 2013: Ameriprise CEO Cracchiolo pockets a quiet windfall

Driven by stock options, Ameriprise’s chief rose to the heights of pay rankings not just in Minnesota.
Giants Ridge: A decade of losses

Giants Ridge: A decade of losses

Read the story: State-subsidized Giants Ridge ski resort leaves trail of red ink.
Minnesota seniors make a pitch to protect land lines

Minnesota seniors make a pitch to protect land lines

Phone companies run into backlash promoting plan to shed some oversight.
Rookie state representative fined $10K for fudging hours on ethics course

Rookie state representative fined $10K for fudging hours on ethics course

Lawmaker said he wanted students to avoid blizzard.
Jan. 8: $100M question for Iron Range board's new leader

Jan. 8: $100M question for Iron Range board's new leader

Gov. Mark Dayton has appointed Mark Phillips to run the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, an influential development agency powered by mining taxes.
Homeland chief addresses Al-Shabab video's MOA threat

Homeland chief addresses Al-Shabab video's MOA threat

A statement said the mall, one of three mentioned, “implemented extra security precautions,” and "some may be noticeable to guests and others won’t be."
Man arrested at scene of officer shooting was felon

Man arrested at scene of officer shooting was felon

The man arrested Saturday in connection with the north Minneapolis burglary has served time for previous assaults. Andrew J. Neal, 43, was arrested Saturday afternoon…

Minnesota food drive organized to feed Ebola orphans

Local task force aims to gather 132,000 pounds to help children ravaged by the outbreak.
Archdiocese puts a number on its wealth: $45.2 million

Archdiocese puts a number on its wealth: $45.2 million

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis says it owes creditors $15.9 million and has assets of at least $42.5 million, according to a bankruptcy filing. The schedules offer a rare glimpse of the holdings and financial operations of the archdiocese, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Jan. 16.
Archdiocese shifted assets before filing bankruptcy

Archdiocese shifted assets before filing bankruptcy

Local Catholic Church officials created nonprofit foundations, funds to potentially keep them out of creditors’ reach.

Q&A: When an archdiocese goes bankrupt

What happens when an archdiocese files for bankruptcy?
Injured passengers in limo crash fight for compensation

Injured passengers in limo crash fight for compensation

Eight of the 10 limo passengers were injured in a crash on Oct. 17, three seriously. Now the group is caught in a dispute with the insurance company for an Eagan-based limo operator over who should pay medical bills, estimated at more than $100,000 so far.
First Twin Cities baby of year: Boy was born at 12:01 a.m.

First Twin Cities baby of year: Boy was born at 12:01 a.m.

Baby Yaw is Twin Cities’ first of the new year.
Courage Kenny is latest charity to drop Savers

Courage Kenny is latest charity to drop Savers

The thrift store chain expressed “great regret” at the decision of the Courage Kenny Foundation.

School-funded tech group mulling layoffs to stem crisis

“Everything’s up for review,” TIES interim director says.
Employment at troubled school tech nonprofit TIES was a family affair

Employment at troubled school tech nonprofit TIES was a family affair

Son and daughter of former executive director were on the payroll.

After troubling audit, state will investigate school tech group TIES

The state was responding to what he called the “serious concerns” raised by a forensic accountant’s report of TIES. The audit, ordered by the school technology group’s board because it was losing money, revealed widespread spending irregularities and lack of documentation.

Audit finds St. Paul-based nonprofit funded by state schools misspent millions

Executive director of St. Paul-based TIES, a school-funded group, left shortly before audit completed.

True Friends nonprofit severs ties with Savers thrift store after allegations

Attorney General Swanson questions how thrift store uses its proceeds.
Savers thrift store accused of misleading public about donations

Savers thrift store accused of misleading public about donations

The Savers thrift store chain is misleading the public about how much of the donations it solicits in the name of local charities, such as the Vietnam Veterans of America, actually goes to the charities. In some cases, Savers is pocketing all of a donation and not giving the charity anything, the Minnesota attorney general says.
Foreign gangs top list of Target data breach suspects

Foreign gangs top list of Target data breach suspects

Investigators stymied so far by cybermystery follow an elusive trail of digital crumbs.

New 'Ban the Box' law tripping up Minnesota employers

Companies can no longer ask about a job seeker’s criminal history on initial employment applications. But some of the state’s marquee employers fumbled the new law, which took effect Jan. 1.

Taxpayers challenge Minnesota residency rules at their own peril

Court challenges to Minnesota’s residency rules rarely end in victory.
One block in Minneapolis, 8,100 parking tickets

One block in Minneapolis, 8,100 parking tickets

Seven of Minneapolis’ top 10 spots for parking violations are on the 3100 block of Girard Avenue S, with 1,086 handed out in front of the apartments at 3105 Girard Av. S.

Payment card processor accused of ripping off Minn. small businesses

Suit says card processor altered some contracts.
High school tennis coach arrested on sexual misconduct charges

High school tennis coach arrested on sexual misconduct charges

Tennis coach linked to affair with student, 15.
Complaints about utility scams soar

Complaints about utility scams soar

Small businesses are favorite marks, so state’s utilities try to fight back by launching the “Slam the Scam” campaign.
July 1: U.S. Bank to pay feds $200 million for FHA claims

July 1: U.S. Bank to pay feds $200 million for FHA claims

The U.S. Department of Justice blamed the lender for contributing to the nation’s costly housing collapse and epidemic of foreclosures. The bank did not admit any liability.
Minnesota attorney general sues Texas firm selling extended auto warranties

Minnesota attorney general sues Texas firm selling extended auto warranties

Eagan woman said it took nearly a year to get her refund after she canceled her contract.
Old drug tax law still deployed in Polk County

Old drug tax law still deployed in Polk County

No one really expects drug dealers to buy a Minnesota Department of Revenue tax stamp to stick on their illegal stash. But there it is…
After Home Depot breach, rogue website hawking Minn. card data

After Home Depot breach, rogue website hawking Minn. card data

At least 12,000 credit and debit cards believed stolen from Home Depot and linked to Minnesota ZIP codes are for sale at the underground crime shop Rescator, a local cybercrime professional says.

Latest phone scam: Minnesota's tax man calling

Don’t fall for it, state Revenue Department cautions.

Who in Minnesota is missing money?

Here is the comprehensive data on the money the state is holding for Minnesotans, current through the end of 2011
State holds $606M in unclaimed assets, cuts efforts to find owners

State holds $606M in unclaimed assets, cuts efforts to find owners

A state agency is holding lost money for 50,000 Minnesotans, including Prince, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, state Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson and columnist Sid Hartman.

How valuables go missing and how to avoid it

Minnesota’s Commerce Department has several tips for avoiding your property becoming unclaimed.

Coming this fall: A new federal starter retirement account

The simple “myRA” is expected to benefit young, low-wage and part-time workers the most.
Don't dismiss barrage of spam, security experts warn

Don't dismiss barrage of spam, security experts warn

Monitor your inbox and change passwords in light of Russian hack attack.

Counties struggle to collect property taxes from those who owe big

Twin Cities agencies have limited tools to make the delinquent landowners pay.

Who owes the most?

Here’s a list of the Top 10 for property tax debtors in each metro county, as of mid July. The numbers come from county property tax divisions. Amounts frequently change. Totals include accrued interest and penalties, except for Wright and Pierce which list only the delinquent tax amount. Most counties were able to exclude taxes that are late but are not considered delinquent because of an appeal to tax court, bankruptcy or confession of judgment that starts a payment plan. Some amounts shown may fall into those categories. The data cover real property only, and exclude personal property and manufactured homes.

Minnesota's public pension funds still in dire need of reform, group says

Public retirement obligations are 74 percent funded, but new growth is shrinking liabilities.
Medtronic deal could sting for long-time shareholders

Medtronic deal could sting for long-time shareholders

Many longtime shareholders will face big tax bills after the company’s Covidien purchase.
June 2: St. Paul climber was following his dream

June 2: St. Paul climber was following his dream

Mark Mahaney, 26, of St. Paul, was among a group of six people, including two guides, believed dead Sunday following a rockslide or avalanche on Mount Rainier in Washington. Rescuers determined that it was too dangerous to try to recover the bodies, which are all believed to be on the Carbon Glacier.
Goldman Sachs and Bain Capital settle bid-rigging case

Goldman Sachs and Bain Capital settle bid-rigging case

Goldman Sachs and Bain Capital were accused of conspiring to drive down prices for companies they were buying.
Farm boom helps Minnesota to 13th-fastest-growing economy in 2013

Farm boom helps Minnesota to 13th-fastest-growing economy in 2013

The state continues Lake Wobegon-like above-average economic growth, mainly because of its thriving farming sector.

Ex-U.S. Bank employee is guilty in 2nd bribery case

Wilbur Tate III, also suspected of taking bribes from a Florida debt agency, awaits sentencing.
Florida debt buyer arrested in bribery of U.S. Bank exec

Florida debt buyer arrested in bribery of U.S. Bank exec

Leonard Potillo, owner of United Credit Recovery, faces federal charges of fraud, bribery and money laundering.

Federal antifraud initiative goes too far, banks say

A secretive Justice Department investigation spilled into the open as criticism intensifies.
Medtronic big user of tax havens, holding $20.5 billion overseas

Medtronic big user of tax havens, holding $20.5 billion overseas

The Fridley-based medical device maker holds $20.5 billion overseas, just one notch below Wal-Mart Stores Inc. with $21.4 billion.

Teen dies after being shot in north Minneapolis

Police are searching for suspects in the shooting death of a 17-year-old teenager in north Minneapolis. He was shot shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday, but…
The new ATMs: Soon they won't be just for cash anymore

The new ATMs: Soon they won't be just for cash anymore

ATM innovators are thinking big, envisioning smarter machines that dispense a wider range of products.
Wells Fargo will pay $62.5 million to settle suit over securities lending

Wells Fargo will pay $62.5 million to settle suit over securities lending

Retirement funds claimed Wells Fargo made riskier bets in an investment program that was billed as a conservative play.
As revenue slows, U.S. Bank turns to cost cutting

As revenue slows, U.S. Bank turns to cost cutting

The Minneapolis bank is holding off on hiring and travel, and a technology unit has cut salaries.
Transamerica and MetLife settle with Minnesota over 'lost' benefits

Transamerica and MetLife settle with Minnesota over 'lost' benefits

MetLife and Transamerica will pay state $4 million over handling of insurance policy proceeds.
Feds call for new limits on data brokers

Feds call for new limits on data brokers

St. Cloud-based eBureau was one of nine data brokers subpoenaed for new FTC study on privacy problems in the industry.
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