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Judge Rules Complaint Against Council President Staver Can Move Forward

November 11, 2016 10:02 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Minnesota’s Office of Administrative Hearings says there is probable cause Rochester City Council President Randy Staver violated campaign finance laws.  The decision comes just days after Staver was re-elected.

The complaint was filed by Rochester business owner Abe Sauer. According to the council president Randy Staver accepted an "in-kind" contribution worth more than the $1,000 dollar limit allowed from one person.

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The complaint focuses on a campaign event hosted at the Mayowood Stone Barn. It claims the venue was donated to Staver for free, and that the food and drinks were discounted because they never added a sales tax to the bill.

The venue is owned by Joe Powers, who also owns "Powers Ventures," which provided the food and drinks. According to the complaint, Staver received three different donations of around $933 from three of Powers' children. Sauer contends in the complaint those "in-kind" contributions are really from Joe Powers as owner of Power Ventures and therefore exceeded the $1,000 contribution limit.

In a statement to ABC 6 News, Sauer cited, “I take no joy in this ruling because it's not a matter where anyone should be happy. I did expect it though and I think anyone who reviews the evidence will find – as two Minnesota judges now have – that there is more than enough evidence to believe Mr. Staver violated campaign finance law regarding his support from Mr. Powers.

Staver, who won re-election against competitor Sean Allen, told ABC 6 News in a statement, “My only comment is that a probable cause hearing does not mean that a violation has occurred. I will continue to cooperate and I look forward to presenting my documentation and records to the judges.”

A response from Joe Powers: "A finding of probable cause does not mean a violation has occurred; such a determination is made only after a full evidentiary hearing on the allegations has happened and right now an evidentiary hearing has not been scheduled.  I will continue to cooperate and provide full information and hope this matter resolves quickly.” 

The evidence, from both sides, will be presented in front of a panel of administration law judges. If Staver is found to have violated campaign finance law, a law office out of St. Paul tells us a fine or reprimand would likely be the punishment.


Credits

Ben Henry

Copyright 2016 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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