Minneapolis appoints lawyer Joe Duffy to run self-investigation

Shira Kantor

After nearly two months at a standstill, Minneapolis’ self-investigation will proceed, following the recent selection of an independent attorney to head the inquiry.

City Attorney Jay Heffern has chosen Chicago lawyer Joe Duffy to conduct the investigation, according to an article in the Star Tribune.

When former 8th Ward Council Member Brian Herron admitted to extorting money from local business owners in July, concerns of more widespread corruption in City Hall surfaced, prompting both federal and municipal investigations.

But despite a swift federal response, the city’s inquiry took several weeks to launch. Part of the reason, said Council Member Joan Campbell, was the strict criteria the Council imposed on the selection process.

“I think it’s our fault, not (Heffern’s) fault,” Campbell said. “(We asked for) somebody outside the metropolitan area with experience and one of the issues, of course, is cost. There are some parameters on what they can pay for.”

After public criticism for his past campaign support for Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton poured in, attorney Don Lewis stepped down as head of the city’s investigation on July 24, six days after City Attorney Jay Heffern appointed him to the task.

To avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, the Council mandated Heffern look outside the seven-county metro area to choose Lewis’ replacement.

Mayoral candidate R.T. Rybak said it is a “complete mystery” to him that the process was so drawn out.

“It should take about two days, it shouldn’t take about two months,” Rybak said. “The citizens have every right to ask why this has taken so long.”

Neither Heffern nor Duffy could be reached for comment.

Council President Jackie Cherryhomes declined to comment.

Campbell affirmed her confidence in Heffern’s selection. “The job will get done,” she said. “But the search has been very troublesome.