ST. PAUL — Under terms of a settlement agreement announced by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on Monday, Sept. 21, will repay $60,000 in charity funds he misused.
The agreement, filed in Ramsey County District Court on Monday, also permanently prohibits the former commissioner and president of Journey Home Minnesota from operating a charity, having access to charitable assets and soliciting charitable contributions in Minnesota. Journey Home Minnesota must also liquidate its assets and distribute them to a veterans charity based in Minnesota and end operations.
“As the primary regulator of charities in Minnesota, it’s my job to ensure that charities are using their assets solely on behalf of their mission and the public, and that Minnesotans can trust that the money they generously donate to charities is being used for the causes they care about,” Ellison said in a news release. “Blake Huffman took advantage of Minnesotans’ trust. He exploited the sacrifices of Minnesota’s veterans to line his own pockets. This settlement makes sure that the money will go where it’s supposed to — to help veterans afford their lives — and that Huffman will never operate a charity in Minnesota again.”
A call seeking comment from Huffman on the settlement was not immediately returned Monday.
Former Ramsey County Commissioner Blake Huffman
Huffman previously served as a commissioner for Ramsey County, but resigned in May 2019 after an inquiry by county officials found potential conflicts of interest in a real estate deal between Journey Home Minnesota and one of his sons.
Ellison filed a civil lawsuit against Huffman last December for improperly overseeing the charity’s assets and for not following the charity’s mission. The lawsuit said Huffman participated in transactions that were conflicts of interest, abandoned projects he had collected thousands of dollars for and tried to cancel leases midway through the tenants’ terms and increased rent to market rates.
The lawsuit also alleged that Huffman failed to pay the charity’s bills and allowed some properties to undergo foreclosures. Through investigation during the litigation process, the attorney general’s Office said it found Huffman had misused nearly $81,000 of the charity’s assets.