Election complaint delayed in county attorney’s office

The complaint is now in the hands of Anoka County prosecutor Jim Weber. Weber expects to issue an update by late September or early October.

"I can't say there will be a decision by then," he said. "It depends on how much time the assigned attorney has to work on it, how much time it takes to do any investigation - whether any investigation needs to be done."

Why the delay sending out the complaint?

Peter Cahill, Deputy Hennepin County attorney, said he called Anoka County Attorney Bob Johnson immediately in August to ask him to take the complaint. It got "sidetracked" internally, Cahill said. The complaint "sat a bit," because of vacations; "an unfortunate delay," he noted.

Bradley sent the letter to Assistant County Attorney Pat Diamond, who handles such complaints. Bradley said he was surprised to learn in early September that the complaint was still in Hennepin County - and was more surprised when he looked at McLaughlin's list of mayoral contributors, released Sept. 6, and saw Diamond had given $150 on July 18.

Bradley called it an obvious delaying effort; Diamond should have disclosed his conflict. "It is a violation of trust," Bradley said. "You think, 'Why did it happen? Why did he keep my letter?'"

Cahill said there was no intentional foot-dragging. Even though the delay consumed the last month of the pre-primary schedule and with only two months before the general election, Cahill said it would not impede the investigation.

"It is not like eyewitnesses to a murder," he said. "This is looking at the documents and examining them. Those documents still exist. They have been filed. This is all stuff that is readily available."

Cahill said Diamond told him that some parts of Bradley's letter were inaccurate and he wanted to write a response to him. "Because Pat [Diamond] kept the letter in order to draft a response, it didn't get back to my desk," Cahill said. "I think it got sidetracked somewhere along the way back from Pat's desk to mine."

(Bradley's complaint against McLaughlin contains some errors. He said McLaughlin didn't run for office in 2002, which he did. The complaint said Sen. John Marty and Diamond encouraged him to file the complaint. Both Marty and Diamond say they told him he had to make his own decision. The letter even had a few numerical errors, but they do not alter Bradley's core concern.)

The Southwest Journal interviewed Diamond Sept. 6 to ask about the complaint's status. "I believe it was going to Anoka County," Diamond said.

Informed that the Journal had talked to Anoka County staff and the complaint was not there, Diamond said it could be in transit. He would call back.

When Diamond did not call back in 24 hours, the Journal contacted Cahill Sept. 7. Cahill said the complaint was now at Anoka County.

The complaint arrived shortly after the Cahill interview. Weber said Anoka County received it by fax at 4:45 p.m. Sept. 7.

Is Cahill concerned that a one-month delay in processing the complaint could at least give a perception of foot dragging?

He said, "Whatever the perceptions are, if [people] perceive that there is any wrongdoing, they are absolutely wrong."

Cahill said Diamond brought the complaint to him immediately for conflict referral. He does not recall that Diamond told him that he had contributed to McLaughlin' campaign - "but it didn't matter," he said, because the complaint had to be referred out regardless.

Bradley received a one-page letter from Diamond Sept. 8, correcting some things in Bradley's Aug. 5 letter.

Bradley wrote back immediately, saying timeliness is important. "The decision by your office not to move forward with my complaint until Sept. 7, in a prompt manner, seems unfair to all parties involved," he said.