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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


3-Judge Panel Rules Against Cardinal, Highland

Last Wednesday, November 30th, was the evidentiary hearing for my campaign complaint complaint against Bob Cardinal and Highland Sanitation, alleging an illegal corporate campaign contribution. Today I received the court's decision in the mail. I've scanned the judges ruling and uploaded it as a PDF.

The three-judge panel concluded that Highland did violate the law (211B.15 subd. 2) by making a prohibited corporate campaign contribution to Mr. Cardinal, and that Mr. Cardinal violated the law (211B.15 subd. 13 and 211B.13 subd. 2) by knowingly soliciting a prohibited corporate campaign contribution.

At the hearing I requested that the judges be lenient towards Highland, because it seemed clear to me that they had been unaware of the law and had stopped as soon as they were informed, by way of my campaign complaint, that what they were doing was illegal. In contrast, I suggested that Mr. Cardinal should be penalized more harshly, as an experienced candidate who had been given the rules and had an obligation to understand the election laws applying to his many campaigns for city office. I am pleased that the judges appear to have agreed, in imposing a nominal $100 penalty on Highland but five times as large a fine on Mr. Cardinal for his "negligent and ill-advised" actions.

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$500? For someone who not only broke the rules he was responsible for but then went on to lie about it? Should be more.

I hope all of those who voted for him are super proud of their new council member right now.

The judges take into account how wide is the effect of the illegal action -- and it was limited in part in this case because of Highland stopping immediately when told that they were breaking the law. If you look at the penalty matrix that the OAH uses, Cardinal's fine is on the high end of the $250-$600 range of fines for where they placed this offense.

We'll have to see how much "negligent and ill-advised" judgment Mr. Cardinal brings to the city council over the next four years.

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