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2 Minnesota Lawmakers Want Top State Commerce Official Fired

March 01, 2017 05:16 AM

Two Minnesota lawmakers say they want a top state commerce official fired following a judge's criticism over what she called an "unwarranted investigation."  

Rep. Kelly Fenton, R-Woodbury, and Rep. Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake, wrote a letter to Gov. Mark Dayton outlining their concerns and displeasure with Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. 

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The two lawmakers cited a recent ruling by Federal Judge Susan Nelson that sharply criticized Rothman's department for conducting an "unwarranted investigation" into Safelite Auto Glass for its billing practices with insurance companies. 

Nelson also said the DOC had violated Safelite's First Amendment right of free commercial speech by its investigative conduct. 

The Judge said the investigation was baseless and was "initiated against Safelite on financially-motivated complaints from competitors" of the company. The ruling also cited testimony from a DOC employee who said "an assistant commissioner made a 'deal' to provide information on Safelite in order to get 'Safelite out of Minnesota.'" 

Fenton said Rothman should be relieved of his duties.  

"These are endless investigations," Fenton said. "It's not just one. What we are seeing here is a pattern of abuse by the Department of Commerce and Commissioner Rothman."  

Albright agreed.

"I think the conduct by the DOC speaks to the fact of, how can you trust someone to enforce the laws when they don't even abide by the laws themselves?" Albright said.

KSTP asked the commerce department for an on-camera interview to respond directly to the court ruling and the lawmakers' comments, but the agency declined.  DOC did issue a written statement heralding its work, but did not address the court ruling. 

Dayton's office told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that the governor had not had a chance to read the lawmakers' letter, referring to DOC.

Credits

Jay Kolls

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

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