A group of lawmakers urged Gov. Tim Walz to stop bullying Minnesotans after the state moved to impose additional fines against a Lynd, Minnesota, restaurant owner.
A Ramsey County judge ordered Larvita McFarquhar, owner of Haven’s Garden, to close her restaurant last month and comply with Walz’s COVID-19 orders. But McFarquhar refused and was found in contempt of court, which comes with a $250 daily fine for non-compliance.
Court documents filed last week reveal that the state is now seeking “further contempt sanctions” against McFarquhar, including “a larger fine for each and every occurrence of a violation,” Alpha News reported.
In a joint press release, a group of Republican lawmakers called the state’s actions “an attempt to confiscate the legal defense fund from Haven’s Garden.” McFarquhar has raised more than $39,000 to mount a legal defense in response to a lawsuit filed against her by Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm.
“Larvita is fighting for her right to support her family and to save her livelihood,” said Rep. Jeremy Munson, R-Lake Crystal. “With the help of the public, she has raised legal funds to defend herself in the court of law. Now, Commissioner Malcolm, citing the money in her legal defense fund, is asking to take more from her to cripple her efforts to defend herself. Larvita is fighting for the freedom to work and the government’s response is to sentence her to hard labor.”
Munson was referring to the state’s usage of a statute that says if McFarquhar is found guilty by the court, she can be “punished … by imprisonment in the county jail, workhouse, or work farm for not more than six months, or by both.”
Like several other restaurants, McFarquhar and her business “have been bullied by big government,” said state Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa.
“After the court ruled against Haven’s Garden, Ms. McFarquhar decided to keep her business open despite the daily $250 fine. The leftover money from her legal defense fund helped her pay this daily fine. However, Tim Walz and Jan Malcolm stepped in again to crush freedom and hurt this business even more,” he said.
Rep. Erik Mortensen, R-Shakopee, said the state’s treatment of McFarquhar “is plain wrong.”
“For so long, Democrats have droned on about how government is supposed to help people,” Munson pointed out. “However, Democrats like Tim Walz and Jan Malcolm are just using government to punish people for living their lives. Frankly, the only person who has broken the law here is Tim Walz. His unconstitutional actions continue to devastate Minnesota. The fact that he would continually threaten and fine Ms. McFarquhar just demonstrates how little he really believes in ‘One Minnesota.’”