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State Auditor: Two Harbors officials ‘acted appropriately’ with conflict of interest concerns

Jul 29, 2022 09:35AM ● By Content Editor
Photo: Mayor Chris Swanson during council meeting. (KBJR)

By Molly Wasche - KBJR 6 News - July 28, 2022

The Minnesota State Auditor’s Office has released a report looking at the actions of the Two Harbor city leaders.

The report focused on the financial conflicts of interest of city leaders, specifically Mayor Swanson.

After receiving concerns about alleged conflicts of interest with the Mayor of Two Harbors, the Office of the State Auditor (OSA) initiated an investigation.

After OSA conducted its review they found;

1. The City Council and City Attorney acted appropriately in considering whether certain conduct by the Mayor violated provisions of Minnesota Law, the City Charter, the City Code, and the City Communications Policy, given that whether a conflict of interest exists is a question of fact for the City’s governing body to resolve in the first instance.

2. Given the confusion of the Mayor’s extensive business ties and their impact on his role as Mayor (and vice versa), the City may benefit from implementing the use of economic interest disclosure statements for its elected officials.

The Auditors office is recommending requiring yearly economic disclosure statements for Two Harbors elected officials.

And recommending the City Council more fully document abstentions from voting due to a conflict of interest.

Back in May, the Resign or Recall Committee collected 600 signatures from community members, enough to trigger a recall election for the mayor in August.

One of the issues the community brought up about Swanson was possible wrongdoing in office, which led to the Resign or Recall campaign.

In early June, Mayor Chris Swanson opted not to resign and publicly addressed local efforts to trigger a recall election.

In late June and after months of contentious community outcry, the Two Harbors City Council voted unanimously to ask Mayor Chris Swanson to step down.

“For the citizens of the community, none of you deserve this. We don’t deserve to be going through this,” said City Council President Ben Redden.

As of July 28, State Auditor Julie Blaha released an investigative report regarding the City of Two Harbors.

“Clearer understanding of the Mayor’s business ties would have addressed a number of the concerns we received,” said Auditor Blaha.

For the full report, click here.

To read this original story and more news, follow this link to the KBJR 6 News website.

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