ST. PAUL – Minnesota’s Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board ruled Tuesday that the attorneys representing two citizen opposition groups violated lobbyist registration rules while trying to influence the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission during the AWA Goodhue project’s two-plus year permitting battle.
Carol Overland of Goodhue Wind Truth and Dan Schleck of Coalition for Sensible Siting have been ordered to register as lobbyists retroactive to 2011 and 2010, respectively, after probable cause was found that they received more than $3,000 for their involvement in the project’s permitting process. However, neither was fined, according to the 16-page filing. The lobbying complaint was filed in December by Mesa Power executive Mark Ward,
In addition, Marie and Bruce McNamara of rural Goodhue have been ordered to turn over financial paperwork dating back to 2008 for their involvement in GWT. Rural Zumbrota resident Steve Groth of CSS has been ordered to do likewise dating back to 2010. If it’s found that any individual spent more than $250 in any calendar year on lobbying activities, they also will have to register retroactively.
“I don’t see it as a big issue,” Groth said Wednesday afternoon, noting he has yet to receive any notification of the board’s ruling. “Mark Ward and these people, they’ve been trying to dig up stuff on us for a long time. If they can’t get their way, they’re just going to slap us on the hand. It’s just ridiculous.”
Overland and Schleck did not return calls seeking comment on Wednesday.
It’s the latest in a battle between residents and the wind company. Ward’s complaint was filed on the heels of a resident filing a lobbying complaint against former project developer Chuck Burdick and AWA Goodhue LLC. The board ruled Burdick had not violated the statute, but the wind company was forced to retroactively file as a lobbyist.
The Coalition for Sensible Siting has appealed the PUC’s permit decision in appellate court; Groth said oral arguments have been scheduled for his month. Goodhue Wind Truth was involved in the appeal but was forced out after AWA Goodhue filed a motion for dismissal over a mailing mistake; Overland’s documents were sent via first-class mail rather than certified mail as required.
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