A Republican intraparty squabble is getting more heated, and more public, as a GOP endorsed candidate for Minnesota’s Supreme Court filed a complaint against the party’s executive committee in a dispute stemming from a drunk driving charge she faces.
On Wednesday, Michelle MacDonald filed a complaint with the Office of Administrative Hearings against State Republican Party Chair Keith Downey, Republican Party State Committee member Pat Anderson, attorney Patrick Burns, and Republican Party Judicial Election Committee Chair Doug Seaton for alleged violations of various provisions Minnesota’s Fair Campaign Practice Statute. She says they have acted to negatively influence her campaign for Supreme Court justice.
During last month’s State Fair, Republicans blocked her from campaigning at the party’s State Fair booth. MacDonald says they also sent her threatening messages and phone calls asking her to refrain from being a candidate and repudiate the endorsement. If she did not drop out of the race, she says, the party members threatened to damage her reputation and her business.
MacDonald was endorsed by the Republican state convention in May after giving a speech where she held a bible over her head and said it was impossible to govern “without God and the bible”.
Video of MacDonald’s speech to Republican delegates
Her short campaign speech, which was interrupted eight times by applause from the Republican delegates who unanimously endorsed her, was heavy on religious references and Tea Party touchstones such as property rights and “liberty”.
Most of the Republican delegates at the convention were unaware that MacDonald had been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and resisting arrest last year. Downey told the Star Tribune “none of us, including the convention delegates were aware of this information about the candidate.” He said “delegates did not have the full disclosure they should have.”
MacDonald’s drunk driving case will be heard this month. She says she’s innocent. “That’s why I’m going to trial.”
Her attorney, Greg Wersal, who also ran for Supreme Court with a Republican endorsement says, “it really doesn’t make any difference in the end if she’s found guilty or not guilty. What’s important to me is that as a judge she needs to understand how people get swept up into the criminal court system and how innocent people are swept up into that system and that they need an advocate who is going to represent them and they need a judge who is going to be fair and not prejudge the case.
“I’m going to be voting for her irregardless. And I would tell other people to vote for her irregardless.”
Several prominent Republicans, including U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden and gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson, have said they will not vote for MacDonald.
MacDonald’s opponent in the November election is Supreme Court Justice David Lillehaug.
At top: highlights of MacDonald’s news conference
Below: video of MacDonald’s entire news conference
85 page complaint from Michelle MacDonald
On May 31, Chair of the Minnesota Republican Party Judicial Committee Doug Seaton announces the committee’s findings that it should endorse a Minnesota Supreme Court candidate and that Michelle MacDonald should the the candidate the party endorses. Seaton is named in MacDonald’s complaint
Said Seaton: “We’ve interviewed the one candidate for a position and the committee has determined as follows by the normal procedure and vote in the committee. And after the interview of the candidate we determined to recommend to the convention that you do endorse for the judicial seat occupied by judge Lillehaug. David Lillehaug. a Dayton appointee. And that you endorse the one candidate to who seeks to oppose justice Lillehaug. That candidate is Michelle MacDonald. She is, I believe in the venue. And I believe that once this report has been received by the, by the convention, Mr. Chair that it would be in order, at least at a timely point to proceed to two issues for the convention. One whether the body, whether a motion, it would be in order to hear a motion to endorse and then secondarily if that prevails to hear a motion to endorse Michelle MacDonald. So those two motions would be in order if not now at some point in the procedure here. That is my report. Thank you very much for your patience.”