New complaint against Scheeler dismissed | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

New complaint against Scheeler dismissed

Posted: December 13, 2013 - 10:21pm

A second complaint filed against Brainerd city councilman Gary Scheeler has been dismissed.

The complaint, alleging that Scheeler gave a Cub Foods gift card to a prospective voter, was dismissed because it was not filed within one year of the alleged incident, which is required in Minnesota.

The complaint was filed Dec. 2 by Brainerd resident Jeff Czeczok with the state of Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings.

It included an affidavit from city council member Mary Koep, which says a resident told Koep that Scheeler knocked on her door to ask for her vote during the 2012 campaign season.

According to the affidavit Koep wrote, The resident “told him she wasn’t going to vote for him after the way he had hung up on her when she had called him previously to discuss an issue. She told me he left but returned later with a gift card from Cub Foods.”

Koep said she asked the woman to report the incident, but she refused to because “she was afraid of retaliation” from Scheeler.

During an interview with the Dispatch, Koep said she gave that information to Czeczok, who ran against Scheeler during the campaign, because it puts a candidate at a “great disadvantage when someone else is giving gifts.”

Scheeler said he gave the resident a thank you card and the gift card in response to a welcome basket she gave him when he first moved to Brainerd in 1995.

“She was saying how thankless people are for (the basket), so I thanked her for it,” Scheeler said.

It was not while campaigning, he said.

“I have never bought a vote and never would buy a vote,” he said.

Scheeler’s lawyer, Ed Shaw, questioned the timing of the complaint, suggesting that it was more of a political move than anything else.

“Mary is a political ally of Jeff. She would have liked to see him win,” he said.

Shaw said Koep made “outrageous” statements in her affidavit about the resident being afraid of retaliation from Scheeler.

After the incident, the woman has returned to Scheeler’s business for repairs to her lawn mower, Shaw said.

“It seems unlikely that she would have said that and then gone back to his business if she was afraid,” he continued.

Scheeler said, “Mary is lying about what this lady said.”

Koep insists she is not lying.

“I’m definitely not lying,” she said. “That’s what she told me.”

Czeczok said he “just wants justice served.”

“I firmly believe what he was doing was illegal,” he said.

A hearing for a separate complaint against Scheeler will be held Feb. 10. That complaint, also filed by Czeczok, alleges Scheeler bought votes during the same election by giving money to a woman and her two children for a meal and offering a job to a homeless man.

JESSICA LARSEN, staff writer, may be reached at jessica.larsen@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/brainerdnews.