SHAKOPEE, Minn. – Rep. Bob Loonan (R-Shakopee) may have violated state campaign laws by using his official state-provided email address to send out campaign material.
Philip Stumpe, a concerned citizen, was first to call attention to the potential violation. Stumpe received an email on August 4 from Loonan’s state-provided email address that called for supporters to vote for Loonan in the upcoming primary. Stumpe describes the email as a “blatant campaign advertisement.”
Stumpe has sent a formal request to the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board to review Loonan’s “apparent violation” of multiple Minnesota statutes and policies.
“This appears to be an approved expenditure made on behalf of Rep. Loonan’s candidacy, with Loonan using the State as the entity for making the expenditure rather than his campaign,” Stumpe wrote in his formal request. “This amounts to an improper contribution to Rep. Loonan’s campaign.”
According to Minnesota Statute § 211B.09, state officials are prohibited from using their official authority to compel a person to take part in a political activity. Similarly, Minnesota Statute §43A.38, subd. 4(a) does not allow state-owned property to be used for any use not in the interest of the state.
State policy also directly prohibits the use of state-owned property, including the email system, for any political activities and fundraising.
With the primary looming, Stumpe, a Republican, insists he is not trying to generate a hit piece on Loonan, saying he has “no axe to grind with him.” However, Stumpe feels these potential violations raise concerns over Loonan’s personal ethics. As an informed voter, Stumpe says his research is all about selecting the candidate that is right for him and his district.
“It’s not like I’m this super politically active person, I just try to be an informed voter and try to select the candidates that are right for me,” Stumpe said. “It just seems like Bob has an issue with ethics.”
Loonan has had other ethical issues recently. In July, Loonan was charged with two counts of driving under the influence of alcohol. Loonan has downplayed the charges, saying he had a “couple of beers while doing lawn work.”
Loonan will face GOP-endorsed Erik Mortensen in Tuesday’s Republican primary. Loonan has previously received backlash after announcing he would challenge Mortensen in the primary election, despite failing to be endorsed by local Republicans. In April, Scott County Republicans endorsed Mortensen over incumbent Loonan for Minnesota House District 55. Mortensen, a local business owner, won over 70 percent of the Republican delegate support.