Col. Mike Hamm, head of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Enforcement Division, retired in September amid speculation that he was about to be fired.
Hamm had been on leave since May 2008, pending the outcome of an investigation into his role in planning the 2007 North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association conference in St. Paul. The DNR spent $300,000 of public funds on the conference, and turned over $76,000 in profits to conservation officers’ unions.
Hamm told the St. Paul Pioneer Press the conference was a “wise use of taxpayers’ money” and “great training” for the officers who attended it. He pointed out that Deputy Commissioner Laurie Martinson and other DNR top brass signed off on the plans.
State Rep. Tony Cornish, a former conservation officer and a friend of Hamm’s, told the Pioneer Press, “I think it’s the biggest scapegoat caper that I can remember in 22 years at the DNR. They are offering a sacrificial lamb.”