Judgment due mid-June for “Our Minnetrista” candidates

The evidentiary hearing concerning the alleged campaign finance violations of the “Our Minnetrista” organization and the candidates they supported in the 2014 and 2018 elections concluded Wednesday, May 8, 2019. Testimony began the morning of Tuesday, May 7 and was heard by three Administrative Law Judges with the Office of Administrative Hearings in St. Paul, MN. Final arguments to be submitted in writing by both the Complainant and Respondents are due June 7, 2019 and a final judgement will be issued approximately 14 days following.

Audio recording of testimony is available to order from the Office of Administrative Hearings (Case# 71-0325-35774) https://mn.gov/oah/media/media-contacts.jsp

 

“Minnetristagate” Update

Coined “Minnetristagate” by the Center of the American Experiment writer, Tom Steward, the Minnetrista campaign finance violations matter, justice scalesinvolving the current Mayor, two current and one past council member and leaders of the Our Minnetrista organization, has been scheduled for an evidentiary hearing May 7. The Administrative Law Judge issued an order denying Respondents motion for a summary disposition on all but one minor allegation having to do with providing literature disclaimers.

The complaint, filed with the MN Office of Administrative Hearings, deals with allegations of campaign finance violations against the Respondents occurring during both the 2014 and 2018 Minnetrista city elections. An excerpt regarding the 2018 elections from the Judge’s order on page 8:

“Our Minnetrista engaged in all of these activities without ever being identified as a source of the funds on the candidates’ campaign reports.  Though Respondents maintain that Our Minnetrista acted as the campaign committee for the candidates, Mortenson and Tschumperlin’s financial reports were filed as candidate reports, rather than campaign committee reports, further obscuring Our Minnetrista’s role in the candidates’ campaigns.  Additionally, the funds expended by Our Minnetrista greatly exceeded the $600 contribution limit.” 

Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings Media contact: https://mn.gov/oah/media/media-contacts.jsp

 

 

Minnetrista campaign violations update

MINNETRISTA CAMPAIGN VIOLATIONS UPDATE: No judgement as of yet but Respondents in the case, which include Minnetrista Mayor Lisa Whalen, two present council members (Mortenson/Tschumperlin), one past council member (Thoele) and leaders of the “Our Minnetrista” organization, have admitted that contributions recorded as coming from individuals actually came from “Our Minnetrista” and were deposited into “Our Minnetrista” accounts, not accounts belonging to the candidates themselves as their disclosure reports showed. Subpoenaed bank records also showed many of the contributions to “Our Minnetrista” far exceeded the $600 statutory contribution limit. The scheme involved taking contributions that exceeded the limit and dividing them up among the candidates and recording them as multiple smaller contributions.

Bar Chart comparison 2014-2018 Contributions and ExpendituresThe scheme managed to go undetected for years until a banking regulation required that checking accounts opened under an assumed name had to be registered with the Secretary of State’s office. The discovery of the registration of “Our Minnetrista” as an assumed name led, among other findings, to the eventual filing of the complaint.

Both Complainant and Respondents have requested a summary disposition in the case. The Office of Administrative Hearings is reviewing the case but has not yet ruled.

Media contacts: https://mn.gov/oah/media/media-contacts.jsp (OAH case# 71-0325-35774)

Minnetrista incumbents raise over $8K to hang onto their city council seats

Minnetrista incumbents have raised over $8K to hang onto their city council seats. Pam Mortenson and John Tschumperlin raised over $4,000 each and have spent all but a few hundred dollars of it to hold onto their seats on November 6. Here are the latest campaign finance reports for Pam Mortenson, John Tschumperlin and challenger Elroy Balgaard.  Previous reports for the candidates are posted on the city’s website.

When I ran for city council 2 years ago, I only spent a few hundred dollars on some signs and literature that I hand delivered myself. So why are things so ramped up this election? There is much at stake and lots of money to be made (or not) based on who wins. But more importantly the status quo could be threatened by an outsider that doesn’t rubber stamp the recommendations of city staff and the mayor.

In reviewing the campaign finance reports I was expecting “Our Minnetrista” to be our minnetrista disclaimerlisted as the incumbents’ political committee because their literature states that it was “Prepared and paid for by Our Minnetrista, PO Box 193, Mound, MN 55364. But there is no political committee named “Our Minnetrista” that has filed a campaign finance report this year, despite the fact their website is collecting donations for both incumbent candidates and they are paying for campaign literature.  “Our Minnetrista” certainly appears to meet the definition of a “political committee” as defined by state statute and, as such, would be required to file campaign finance reports. Someone may want to look into that.

Minnetrista incumbents raise over $8K to hang onto their city council seats

Minnetrista incumbents have raised over $8K to hang onto their city council seats. Pam Mortenson and John Tschumperlin raised over $4,000 each and have spent all but a few hundred dollars of it to hold onto their seats on November 6. Here are the latest campaign finance reports for Pam Mortenson, John Tschumperlin and challenger Elroy Balgaard.  Previous reports for the candidates are posted on the city’s website.

When I ran for city council 2 years ago, I only spent a few hundred dollars on some signs and literature that I hand delivered myself. So why are things so ramped up this election? There is much at stake and lots of money to be made (or not) based on who wins. But more importantly the status quo could be threatened by an outsider that doesn’t rubber stamp the recommendations of city staff and the mayor.

In reviewing the campaign finance reports I was looking for “Our Minnetrista” to be our minnetrista disclaimerlisted as the incumbents’ political committee because their literature states that it was “Prepared and paid for by Our Minnetrista, PO Box 193, Mound, MN 55364. But there is no political committee named “Our Minnetrista” that has filed a campaign finance report this year, despite the fact their website is collecting donations for both candidates and they are paying for campaign literature. Someone may want to look into that.

May 18, 2018

A CAMPAIGN TO DISCREDIT THIS BLOG IS UNDERWAY by supporters of the Mayor, specifically the individual behind the “Our Minnetrista” campaign that supported the Mayor’s candidacy. Blog followers have reported to me they’ve received personal messages alleging misinformation on the blog and casting doubt on my integrity. The person sending these messages is too cowardly to identify a single fact they can prove is untrue but rather chooses to go behind my back and make allegations. These tactics are precisely why I started this blog, to have a public forum out in the open where people can judge for themselves what the truth is. I encourage any of my readers to contact me directly if they have questions about anything on the blog. This person is too cowardly to do that knowing his underhanded deceit will be called out. It is sad that a council member can’t express viewpoints that don’t coincide with the Mayor’s without being personally attacked.

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Who is “Our Minnetrista?”

As I was door knocking for permissions for yard signs the other day, a resident that had earlier been approached by one of the “Our Minnetrista” candidates said to me “So who is this woman council member they’re talking about that is no good? This sign isn’t for her is it?” Laughing, I said “No, that no-good council member would be me, but I’m not running. This sign is for Elroy Balgaard” and proceeded to talk about his views on protecting Minnetrista’s rural landscape, reducing debt, taxes, managing growth, etc. The resident ultimately took Mr. Balgaard’s sign.
sprawl“Our Minnetrista” is an organization promoting both incumbent Minnetrista city council candidates Pam Mortenson and John Tschumperlin. Residents have noticed all the signs and are asking “Who is Our Minnetrista?” Neither their old WordPress website nor the current one at ourminnetrista.com indicate who the people are behind this organization. They are, in fact, a small group of public officials, school board members, ex-city employees and others with a vested interest in maintaining the current power structure and taxing authorities at city hall. One might conclude they don’t want their names on the website because they know being affiliated publicly with the organization could harm their reputations. And they’d be right.
“Our Minnetrista” says on their WordPress site they promote “ethical and independent leadership in our city.” Yet the candidates they currently promote have voted with the Mayor on virtually every vote they’ve cast. Independent? As far as ethics go they operate in the shadows and have discredited candidates and council members that disagree with them by sending private messages and anonymous flyers alleging misdeeds knowing they will never have to provide evidence to substantiate their claims. Ethical?
50 plus acres campus planThey say they promote “effective” leadership, but effective at what? On the front page of their WordPress site they tout one of their past candidates (our current Mayor) championing a 50+ acre city master campus plan that would plunge the city deeper in debt. Thankfully they’ve failed at that so far but they will try again. All of their financially supported candidates have increased your city property taxes every year they’ve been in office. Their candidates have road blocked attempts to competitively bid out engineering contracts and voted for outrageous salary increases (one for 19% last year) with disregard to how these decisions burden the city’s already over-taxed taxpayer.
There is a lot at stake in this election. “Our Minnetrista” is determined to maintain control of city hall, the taxes, regulations and relationships they need to implement their agenda. If you want higher taxes, more debt, growth, regulations and special vendor relationships that don’t have to compete, take one of their signs.