Judge, whose wife is Dayton advisor and Met Council PR firm owner, will rule on Met Council data case

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metcouncilsThe Minneapolis Lakes Parks Alliance has a pending lawsuit against the Metropolitan Council that would require the agency to hand over emails sent during the planning process for the $1.8 billion Southwest Light Rail line from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie.  Minnesota Data Practices law states that emails sent within state agencies are public domain, but the Met Council has been fighting the case in court.

The Lakes Parks Alliance believes that the Met Council acted illegally when only considering one route for SWLRT and is seeking correspondence between the regional planners and public officials, employees, and potential project contractors.

The Star Tribune reported tonight that “The Met Council filed a protective order fighting the request, but that was overruled by Magistrate Judge Steven Rau earlier this month.  Now, the Met Council has filed a formal objection to Rau’s decision, calling it “contrary to law.” The paper also stated that “U.S. District Judge John Tunheim is expected to rule on the Met Council’s objection.”

There could be a serious conflict of interest as Tunheim, who was appointed to the bench by Bill Clinton, is married to Kathy Tunheim, a senior advisor to Governor Dayton.  The Governor has been an outspoken advocate for the SWLRT and appoints allies to the Metropolitan Council whose emails would be made public.

Alpha News previously reported on Tunheim and her potential lobbying conflicts via her client list at her public relations firm, Tunheim Partners last spring.  The Metropolitan Council is a client of Tunheim Partners. 

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