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Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Dodges Questions Over Judge's Opinion

March 01, 2017 10:30 PM

The head of the Minnesota Department of Commerce dodged questions from 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS about a federal judge's scathing opinion concerning a DOC investigation. 

Federal Judge Susan Nelson ruled the DOC carried out an "unjustified" investigation into Safelite Auto Glass for its billing practices with insurance companies.  

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Nelson also said the DOC "initiated a baseless investigation against Safelite based on financially-motivated complaints from competitors."  Further, Nelson said there was testimony from a DOC employees stating "an assistant commissioner made a 'deal' to provide information on Safelite in order to 'get Safelite out of Minnesota.'" 

RELATED: 2 Minnesoat Lawmakers Want Top Commerce Official Fired

In response to a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS question about the ruling, Rothman said it's the DOC's job "to stand up for consumers and small businesses in Minnesota, and we thought Safelite was steering business to the larger insurance companies and was not complying with regulations." 

Rothman abruptly ended the interview after repeated attempts to get him to respond to the judge's opinion.

The House Commerce Regulatory Committee took up a bill Wednesday that would, in the words of committee chair Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska, "avoid problems like the Safelite investigation at DOC in the future." 

KSTP first reported on the judge's ruling Tuesday, and two state lawmakers called on Rothman to resign. 

State Reps. Kelly Fenton, R-Woodbury, and Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake, said DOC conduct during the Safelite investigation eroded the public's confidence in the department to protect consumer rights and the rights of businesses it regulates.

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Jay Kolls

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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