Campaign complaint filed against Barb Johnson

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Minneapolis Council President Barb Johnson has used her campaign funds for haircuts, dry-cleaning, cell and land line service, and AAA. We wrote about her campaign expenditures right before the election.

Now, someone has filed a complaint. Warren Kaari, a retired history teacher who still works with students in Minneapolis public schools, attached our article to his complaint, which he filed with the state Office of Administrative Hearings. Kaari minced no words in several e-mails to Johnson after reading about her campaign expenses.

"I kind of let her have it," Kaari says. "I said, 'You betrayed those people who trusted you, who worked for you on your campaign'... I said, 'You should resign.'" Kaari said he did not receive a response from Johnson.

Administrative Law Judge Manuel J. Cervantes determined that the expenditures constitute prima facie violations of campaign law -- meaning that on first appearance, they appear to be illegal. A three-judge hearing will be held to determine if this is, indeed, the case. Here's exactly what the judge said in his memorandum:

The issue to be determined is whether Ms. Johnson's expenditures were for permitted political purposes reasonably related to the conduct of her election campaigns, or whether the funds were converted to personal use in violation of the statute. The Administrative Law Judge notes, however, that complaints brought under Minnesota Statutes Chapter 211B are subject to a one-year statutory limitation.[2] Therefore, the panel will consider only those expenditures at issue that occurred within one year of the filing of this complaint. Moreover, at the hearing, the Complainant will have the burden to establish the violations by a preponderance of the evidence.[3] With these understandings, the allegations will proceed to an evidentiary hearing before a three-judge panel to be scheduled in the near future.


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