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Kelly v. Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board

May 11, 2004

MAYOR RANDY KELLY, RELATOR,
v.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE AND PUBLIC DISCLOSURE BOARD, RESPONDENT.



Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Minge, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. Relator generally complied with an earlier decision issued by respondent when he accepted a gift from a lobbyist principal on behalf of the City of St. Paul and used the gift for a public purpose.

2. Relator did not violate Minn. Stat. § 10A.071 (2002) where prior acceptance by the St. Paul City Council was not possible and the city council, as soon as practicable thereafter, accepted the gift and appropriated use of the gift to relator pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 465.03 (2002).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kalitowski, Judge

Reversed

Concurring specially, Minge, Judge

OPINION

A complaint filed with respondent alleged that relator City of St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly accepted a gift from a lobbyist principal, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 10A.071 (2002). Following a hearing, respondent found that there was probable cause to believe that relator had violated section 10A.071. Relator challenges respondent's decision, arguing that he did not violate section 10A.071 because the gift was to the city, it was used for the benefit of the city, and the city council approved the gift pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 465.03 (2002).

FACTS

On April 21, 2003, Jac Sperling and Bob Naegele, two of the owners of the Minnesota Wild hockey team, spoke with Deputy Mayor Dennis Flaherty to invite relator Mayor Kelly to travel with them to game seven of the National Hockey League western conference quarter-final playoff game between the Minnesota Wild and the Colorado Avalanche to be played in Denver the following night. Deputy Mayor Flaherty called Mayor Kelly that night and Mayor Kelly agreed to attend. The next night, Mayor Kelly flew to Denver with Dr. Glen Nelson, an investor in Minnesota Hockey Ventures Group LP, Rose Wild LLC, and Gopher State Ethanol, all of which are lobbyist principals. Sperling, Naegele, and two other Minnesota Wild officials also flew to Denver with Dr. Nelson and Mayor Kelly. Mayor Kelly watched the game from a private suite at the Pepsi Center. After the game, the group immediately returned to Minnesota, arriving at approximately 4:00 a.m. on April 23.

Shortly after returning from the trip, Mayor Kelly proposed a resolution to the St. Paul City Council accepting the gift of air travel and attendance at the game on behalf of the city. On May 7, 2003, the city council considered the resolution at a public meeting and passed it by a two-thirds majority as required under Minn. Stat. § 465.03, finding that "the participation by official City representatives in these events serves the public purpose of supporting and showing commitment to a major asset of Saint Paul, encouraging further development and commitment in Saint Paul, and further enhancing Saint Paul as a place to live, work, and visit."

On May 28, 2003, two individuals filed a complaint with respondent Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board alleging that Mayor Kelly violated Minn. Stat. § 10A.071 (2002), which prohibits a lobbyist principal from giving a gift to a public official and prohibits a public official from accepting a gift from a lobbyist principal. On June 25, 2003, respondent held a hearing and found that there was probable cause to believe that Mayor Kelly had violated section 10A.071. Respondent's order required Mayor Kelly to reimburse the Wild for all costs of the trip. Mayor Kelly filed a writ of certiorari to this court.

ISSUE

Did relator violate Minn. Stat. ยง 10A.071 by accepting a gift from a lobbyist ...


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