The Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists calls on St. Louis County to release to the public county-based emails and campaign communications by county commissioner and Congressional candidate Pete Stauber in accordance with Minnesota law and a recent ruling by the Minnesota Department of Administration.
MNSPJ supports the Star Tribune in its quest for emails between Stauber and the Republican National Congressional Committee where the county email system was apparently used, despite Minnesota law prohibiting such uses for campaigns.
The Data Practices Office of the Minnesota Department of Administration has ruled in an advisory opinion that St. Louis County should have released the emails, yet the county denies that the public has a right to know in this case.
St. Louis County determined the political campaign emails are not public because the RNCC is an “individual,” relying on an unreasonable interpretation of state statute. As the Data Practice Office correctly stated, this interpretation of the law would make all emails by public officials secret. It ignores the purpose and meaning of the governing section of the Minnesota Data Practices Act, where the paramount principle favors the public’s right to know.
It is troubling that St. Louis County not only denied the Star Tribune’s request to seek truth and report it, but also doubled down on the denial even after the state’s authoritative body on public information called for its release.
St. Louis County is engaging in an egregious violation of the Data Practices Act and MNSPJ calls on it to immediately reverse its decision.
Joe Spear, president, MNSPJ