Radinovich to resign from Iron Range Resources post after hiring controversy

Joe Radinovich

Joe Radinovich

Joe Radinovich will resign his high-level post with the Minnesota Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation after last week’s report detailing irregularities in the hiring process.

Radinovich is a former state representative from Crosby. He was the 2018 8th District DFL Congressional nominee. He previously served at the IRRRB as a politically-appointed Assistant Commissioner.

However, Radinovich’s hire to a six-figure classified state position drew scrutiny last week. The Tower Timberjay revealed several irregularities. The state agency only posted the position for 24 hours after removing typical education requirements from the job description.

Radinovich told WDIO that he was resigning “to refocus the public’s attention on the important mission of the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation.”

State Rep. Sandy Layman (R-Cohasset), a critic of the hiring process, applauded his decision, but said that the agency still deserves scrutiny for how this was handled.

Radinovich did something classy here, to the degree he had any choice. However he wasn’t the one who broke the rules. IRRR Commissioner Mark Phillips arguably deserves the most criticism for what happened. It was his process, and his weak defense of that process that colored the worst elements of the Timber Jay exposé.

What’s next? Well, that likely depends on how much heat Phillips ends up taking. 

UPDATE: As many of you have pointed out in the comments, the Star Tribune obtained a copy of an official reprimand of Phillips by Gov. Tim Walz. The Iron Range DFL legislative delegation issued a letter supporting Phillips. Right now it appears that they are single-handedly keeping Phillips in the job. Time will tell whether the governor will abide this situation. 

I can’t imagine Phillips being an effective, credible leader of the agency after this incident. He should resign. 


  1. Joe musich says

    This will likely damage the Dems even more..so damn ham handed. So sad but sort of expected considering how things have been handled.

  2. Amazing! Of all the players involved in this nefarious saga…Radinovich, Phillips, the unknown approver granting the 24 hour job posting, Walz, probably Myron Frans, maybe Carly, and who gets fired? Radinovich.  Although he knew unethical actions took place throughout his hiring process, he himself did nothing wrong. He simply accepted a job offer. Go figure.

  3. ?”Radinovich did something classy here.” Like Goodfellas classy? Like Trump to Manafort classy? I get it… Joe is the fall guy protecting his patrons….. there is nothing classy here.

  4. The Red Star reports this morning:

    The tribune says they obtained the letter after a public records request. According to the paper, Walz wrote to Mark Phillips the following:

    “I expect you to model openness, transparency, inclusivity, and servant leadership. In this situation, you fell far short of my expectations.”

    So let me get this straight. Phillips gets a “C” performance rating this year, Radinovich loses his job. Phillips is the wrong doer, Radinovich did nothing wrong. Gerald is right, years of corruption continue, no change as Layman/the GOP has attempted.

    The letter of reprimand follows the controversial hiring of former state Rep. Joe Radinovich. Lawmakers have accused Phillips of disregarding the hiring process when they hired Radinovich, who resigned from the position Thursday.

    Walz also said in the letter that his office never directed Phillips to vary from regular hiring procedures, according to the tribune.

    In response to the letter of reprimand, Representative Sandy Layman (R-Cohasset) said:

    “Questions remain about where the direction came from to expedite the hiring. It sounds like Governor Walz is making it quite clear the direction did not come from him personally. I think people still have questions about the waiver and how it was granted.”

    So, questions still remain….such as “who the heck authorized the unethical process?” Are they going to be fired? Or just get a private letter to stick in his/her personnel file like Phillips saying shame on you.

    But Walz says….”I’ve done my job, let’s move on”. Incompetent, shady politician.

  5. Erin Ningen says

    Joe Radinovich did the right thing here. Ethics are important in public life and Radinovich demonstrated that he can put the public interest before his personal gain. Bravo, Joe.

    • Whoa….I’d caution on describing Joe as this extraordinary, self-sacrificing person. He was fired. Doesn’t take an ounce of honesty to get yourself fired.

  6. I’m thinking the discussion went something like this: “joe, we didn’t think anyone would notice how we hired you. So you will resign now. We will take care of you, don’t worry”. Great example of swamp politics. Don’t grant joe any morality, he doesn’t deserve it.

  7. Chris
    You nailed it. I couldn’t agree more. Joe was the chosen “let’s move on” scapegoat. You know – a person who we can point fingers at for the one being at fault, for wrongdoings, mistakes, or misconduct of others, especially for reasons of expediency.

    Joe knew all along the system was rigged for him. Accepting a position under those circumstances makes his claim of sacrificially resigning beyond insincere, it’s transparently feigned.

    His only regret is they all got caught and he was told to be the fall guy. Not to worry, the DFL elites will take good care of ole Joe.

  8. The most interesting thing about this story right now is the way Rep. Layman keeps carrying on about it. Even the conservative DNT made a mocking note of that. You would almost forget that she herself was on the Board when it made the decision to hire Radinovitch, or that she herself was the beneficiary of high salary political spoils-based hiring when she was the director of the IRRRB. Senator Eichorn is on the Board too, and at least he has the good sense to be less flamboyant in trying to make this into an effort to attack Walz.

    Layman also sponsored a bill to “reform” the IRRR hiring process, but unfortunately the bill just restates the existing regulations that Walz cites in his reprimand of Phillips — it’s more an editorial than a piece of legislation. It is too bad that the GOP did not decide to address the real problem and propose depoliticizing and professionalizing the IRRR, rather than just try to make noise. But of course, I am sure that Layman and others are looking forward to some future date when the election of a Republican governor will allow them to get their feet back in the trough.

    I am left wondering how it is that Layman suddenly decided this was a big deal when the Timberjay article came out, after she had been aware of the situation as a board member for several weeks before the story. You might almost think that she is less interested in the problem of trying to keep the IRRR on the straight and narrow and more interested in trying to exploit the situation for political gain.

    But Republicans would never do that, would they?

    The people of the Range need to stand up and demand that this resource, which is supposed to be helping the Range deal with its gradually collapsing economy, be staffed by qualified professional staff, not by political hacks who are looking to cash in on their party being in power. Write your representative and senator. It doesn’t make a difference which party they belong to.

    • Walz – “My Office never directed you to request a shortened posting period or otherwise vary from ordinary hiring procedures.”
      Ranger47 – Then who did? Myron Frans, head of MMB? Carly? If so, did he/she get the same slap on the wrist, shame on you letter, “c” performance rating for the year?

      State Rep. Sandy Layman – “This incident was embarrassing for the organization, and I have many questions that still need to be answered about the process and the involvement of the governor’s office.”
      Ranger47 – What’s illogical with that question? Answer it. 

  9. Anyone here remember when Layman was chairman of the IRRRB during the Micheletti/Excelsior Energy boondoggle? Her “embarrassment” now is more than ironic. Of course, that took place under the sterling leadership of Tim Pawlenty. IOKIYAR

  10. j. patrick coolican‏@jpcoolican
    want to call attention to key detail in story about irrrb hiring of DFL politico Joe Radinovich: expedited timeline was needed “to meet the expectations … as expressed by the Governor’s office.” MMB Commissioner Myron Frans said that statement is inaccurate.

    j. patrick coolican‏@jpcoolican
    Sounds a little inside baseball, but the upshot: IRRRB threw around the governor’s name without him knowing or authorizing, at least according to Frans, who is one of Walz’s closest advisers and is the state budget director. Seems like a pretty big bureaucratic faux pas.

    Dan Nelson‏@dnelsonmn 9
    Replying to@jpcoolican
    As a professional journalist, do you really believe the governor’s office was not aware of this hire and the circumstances? This guy is very tied in. It strains credibility that they had no idea and are so surprised. MMB had to approve the short time, correct?

  11. From a recent Red Star article on Frans:

    “Frans then took on a new role: heading up the Minnesota Management and Budget office, a hybrid agency responsible for both the state’s budget and its employees. It brings frequent 12-hour days at the Capitol, endless legislative committee hearings, and late-night texts from the governor. The MMB commissioner is the state’s chief financial officer and its chief human resources official. “I do human resources stuff 80 percent of my time and financial stuff the other 80 percent of my time,” Frans joked.

    A hardworking 24/7 professional, late night texts, dedicated, smart guy like Frans and you think he…and Walz were clueless on the Radinovich plan? Ya right..

  12. It’d be informative to get Frans IT records….you know, phone calls, texts, emails..stuff like that. They’re probably bleached white as snow by now..

  13. The more this turns into a partisan witch hunt, the less it is likely that the basic problem with the consistently unprofessional leadership and staffing of the IRRR under both parties will be addressed.

    And of course, the witch hunt doesn’t make any difference. The notion that even if the wildest fantasies of people like Ranger are realized, that Walz actually told Phillips to hire Joe, damn the torpedoes full speed ahead, that that will have any impact on the re-election chances for Walz three years from now, or on the re-election chances in 2020 of any of the Range politicians involved, is pure fantasy. Statewide, and in particular in the Metro, the IRRR, with a total budget that is just 1% of the state budget, is not even on the radar screen, much less a major concern. People from outside the Range who actually know anything about the IRRR, and they are few, simply consider it a local issue of little consequence.

    It simply does not make a difference south of Highway 2, and Rangers will undoubtedly go ahead and re-elect the same politicians as always.

    IMO, it would be so much better if people and politicians united to use this scandal as a tool to pry open the decade- long history of abuse of the IRRR, to get all the politicians of both parties out of it, and to once and for all try to turn it into a serious agency.

    However, neither party seems interested in that. It is too handy a way to throw a nice chunk of cash to people like Phillips, Metsa, and Radinoivich, and before that to others like Layman, and who knows how many others before that.

    So the DFL is tossing Radinovich over the side but just putting a nasty note in Phillips’ file, and a few in the GOP are just frothing at the mouth in totally ineffective ways. In the end, a year from now it will be as if nothing happened.

    The Range deserves an agency that really works, but politicians of both parties are happy with a nice jar of honey to dip into at their convenience, a sweet treat that the governor in power can pass out to his party members.

    As our president would say, sad.

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