Laura Brod spent $19,051 in campaign donations on legal fees after posing for sexy photo on 8-19-08

Categories: Politics
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The Laura Brod boudoir photo was taken on August 19, 2008, at 12:40 a.m., according to an analysis of the picture's metadata by City Pages.

The new analysis was made possible by a confidential source who provided a copy of the original photo to City Pages -- previously, the image was available only in a filtered version that had been watermarked and posted on Tumblr.

The August 19, 2008, date means the boudoir photo was taken during the time Brod was representing District 25A in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

In fact, just two and a half months after the photo was taken -- on November 4, 2008 -- Brod was re-elected to her seat.

Less than a year after her re-election, Brod began spending exorbitant amounts of her campaign cash on legal fees, according to campaign finance disclosure reports available online from the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.

After reviewing those legal fees at City Pages' request, the board's executive director, Gary Goldsmith, characterized them as unusual.

"I don't usually use words like 'normal,' 'not normal,' but I can say that you would be accurate in stating that we don't see those kinds of fees in a typical campaign for legislative office that she was involved in," Goldsmith says. "Now we did review our records and we didn't find that the campaign was involved in any legal matters with the [Campaign Finance Board] during this period, so what I cannot tell you is what this money was used for."

In July 2009, Brod spent $2,500 on "legal services" from Stoz-Friedberg. On its website, the company describes itself as "a global leader in investigations, intelligence, and risk management" that advertises such services as "computer forensics, computer investigations, expert witness and electronic discovery technical services firm."
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Near the end of 2009, she retained the Minneapolis law firm of Best & Flanagan. She paid the firm $4,305 on December 5, 2009 for legal services:
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On January 2, 2010, Brod took $5,000 from the campaign till to reimburse the money spent out-of-pocket to retain Best & Flanagan:

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The legal fees continued to pile up. On February 1, she spent $1,612 in campaign money on legal services from Best & Flanagan. She returned to the firm on April 19, spending another $5,633:
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All told, Brod spent $19,051 of her campaign donations on legal services in the seven months from July 30, 2009 to February 1, 2010, according to the campaign finance reports.

If any campaign cash is inappropriately spent on personal expenses, the candidate could be on the hook to pay it back.

"The board could determine that an expenditure was inappropriately made, was in fact for personal purposes, and could order the individual to reimburse the committee for the expenditure," Goldsmith explains. "That has happened in a couple of cases."

We contacted Best & Flanagan to ask about the legal fees. A spokeswoman for the firm got back to us via email with the following statement:

"We do not discuss the facts behind our representation of any client, including our fees. You should speak directly with Ms. Brod."

We sent an email to Molly Smith -- Brod's assistant, who previously issued Brod's official statement acknowledging that the boudoir photo was authentic -- on Friday afternoon seeking an explanation for how these legal fees relate to Brod's campaign. There was no reply.
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4 comments
Rick Meyer
Rick Meyer

As long as she spent the money on another photo spread, I'm fine with it. Just kidding.

scott.luse
scott.luse

At first I thought it was a non story. With this new information, I applaud CP on doing some really great reporting!

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