DOC officials confirm investigation of former deputy commissioner

Updated: July 23, 2019 06:26 PM

Minnesota Department of Corrections officials confirmed they are conducting an investigation into complaints filed against former Deputy Commissioner Sarah Walker.

"We have received complaints about Deputy Commissioner Walker and the investigation has not been completed," wrote DOC spokesperson Sarah Fitzgerald in a statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

Walker announced her resignation on Friday to the department, and was not on leave at the time.

RELATED: DOC deputy commissioner resigns

"The complaint alleges that I conducted private lobbying activities on state time, after my appointment to the DOC," said Walker in a statement.  "… that complaint played no role in my decision to leave."

Prior to joining the Walz administration in January, Walker lobbied at the Capitol.

"After accepting my appointment to the DOC, I transferred all of my lobbying clients to other registered lobbyists and consciously avoided conduct that would give even an appearance of impropriety in this context," said Walker.

"She's spent a life-time in criminal justice reform we are certainly grateful for the service that she gave," said Governor Tim Walz.

Walz said he hopes DOC completes their investigation "as quickly as possible."

"This one comes to me as less of a surprise," said State Representative Marion O'Neill (R) of Maple Lake. "I am really looking forward to having Commissioner [Paul] Schnell appoint a deputy commissioner that is easy to work with and qualified." 

"I have received information from leadership within the administration that Representative John Lesch is a complainant," said Walker. 

DFL Rep. Lesch of St. Paul denied Walker's allegation that he filed a complaint to DOC.

"Her narrative is false," said Lesch. 

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS filed a public records request with DOC to learn more about the investigation.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS continues to work on this developing story.

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