MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A top official at the Minnesota Department of Human Services approved thousands of dollars in payments to a nonprofit while serving on its board.

The Star Tribune obtained documents showing that former Assistant Commissioner Nathan Moracco signed contracts and payment authorizations with the Minnesota Health Action Group. It says this appears to have violated state ethics policies against even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Officials from Gov. Tim Walz's administration say there was no conflict because Moracco was representing the state's interests with a group that was trying to lower health care costs.

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