Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan confirmed today he's been asked to investigate charges of false and misleading campaign material by the Senate (Republican) Victory Fund in the election between Sen. Don Samuelson and Sen.-elect Paul Koering.
Steve Barrows, chair of the Crow Wing County DFL Party, claimed in a letter received by the county attorney last week that Republican campaign materials distributed in October and November misrepresented Samuelson's position on partial-birth abortions and a woman's right to know about the risks of abortion. The letter also was sent to Morrison County Attorney Conrad Freeberg.
Barrows said in his letter that Samuelson has consistently voted pro-life, has voted to ban partial-birth abortion and has voted for the Women's Right to Know bill. He submitted verifications of Samuelson's votes and positions and asked the county attorneys to deal with these "distortions and outright lies."
Earlier this month, Samuelson said allegations of fair campaign act violations would be brought to the county attorneys' attention. He described a Republican mailing that distorted his position on abortion issues even though he was endorsed by the Minnesota Concerned Citizens for Life.
Sen. Minority Leader Dick Day said his committee stands by the material it sent out.
"Sooner or later Don (Samuelson) will have to realize that he did lose the election," Day said today.
Ryan said he'll follow up Barrows' letter by talking to individuals and seeking specific information. If he decides there's no probable cause then the matter would end there. If he decides there is probable cause then he could either charge it out as a misdemeanor violation or submit it to a grand jury. The grand jury would make the decision to indict or not. Ryan said none of these actions would have any bearing on the election of Koering.
Barrows could not be reached for comment this morning.
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