A fundraiser held early this year is expected to help pay for the legal expenses of embattled state Sen. Jeff Hayden as the Minneapolis DFLer faces ethics complaints in the Minnesota Senate.
The fundraiser, hosted by Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, was in January, a spokeswoman for Bakk confirmed Tuesday.
"I don't know that [the fundraiser] was explicitly for a singular purpose," said spokeswoman Alyssa Siems Roberson, adding that "it was no secret that Jeff [Hayden] would have had legal bills, since there was an ethics charge."
Hayden has drawn political and legal scrutiny for his board member duties for the now-shuttered nonprofit, Community Action of Minneapolis. The organization's leaders allegedly misspent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.
In September, a federal grand jury indicted Community Action's former director, Bill Davis, who has been accused of theft and fraud for allegedly misusing $250,000 in taxpayer money.
A court-appointed receiver is also determining just how much money is owed by Community Action, which was largely funded through state taxpayer grants. In a court document, the court-appointed receiver identified roughly $3,400 in "improper" travel expenses paid to Hayden and his wife.
Hayden declined to say how much his legal fees have been since Senate Republicans last year lodged an ethics complaint against him. Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, in October asked a Senate ethics committee to revisit the charges, after they were tabled while state investigations continued.
Roberson said the hosting of fundraisers for senators' campaigns is the responsibility of the Senate majority leader and not unusual. Before January, Bakk's last fundraiser for Hayden was in January 2012.
Hayden said he feels compelled to defend his reputation. "When someone raises questions that draw ethical, brazen questions about your own name and the work you've done … you want to get somebody to represent you," he said.
He added: "I won't get into what the fees are, but I don't think it's inappropriate … especially in light of [charges against me]. I just want to make sure I have the right people to give me advice and help me through the process."