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Council will weigh reimbursing Samuels for FBI probe

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: December 10, 2013 - 5:10 PM

A former Minneapolis mayoral candidate was the subject of a brief FBI investigation in early 2013 that concluded with no findings of wrongdoing, according to documents presented to the City Council.

The City Council’s budget committee will weigh Wednesday whether to reimburse outgoing Council Member Don Samuels for $9,083 in attorney’s fees relating to the investigation, which had not been previously revealed publicly.

The probe focused on a complaint that Samuels had a conflict of interest in his roles as a city council member and co-founder of the Peace Foundation, a precursor to the Northside Achievement Zone. Samuels’ wife Sondra is the CEO of the Northside Achievement Zone.

Samuels said the FBI interviewed him for several hours during the campaign.

“After an initial inquiry, the Department of Justice concluded that a full investigation was not warranted and the matter was officially closed on January 28, 2013,” said the request for reimbursement, prepared by the city attorney’s office.

Samuels said Tuesday that he does not know who filed the complaint, nor its exact allegations. He believes it was politically motivated, however.

The two-term North Side representative placed third in the mayoral race, which concluded this November.

“I just waited until the campaign was over because I thought that one of the intended purposes might be influencing the mayor’s race,” Samuels said. “And any addressing of it at all, even to say the case was closed and there was no cause, would kind of be a political challenge in a campaign.”

Former U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger represented Samuels in communications with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office. He said Tuesday that the process lasted less than six weeks and they never learned the exact allegations.

Kyle Loven, a spokesman for the FBI, said department policy prevents him from commenting on the case.

Samuels' successor, Blong Yang, will be sworn in on Jan. 6. Samuels has not decided what he will do next.

Below is a letter concluding the investigation:

DOJ Letter by eric_roper

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