Herald JournalHoward Lake-Waverly Herald, Oct. 14, 2002

Wright Co. Republicans pull support from Dick Borrell

Borrell asks supporters to leave incident in the past

By Lynda Jensen

Wright County Republicans pulled their support from candidate Dick Borrell of Waverly ­ asking him to withdraw from the race for District 19B ­ following publication of an Oct. 5 Star Tribune article about sexual misconduct by Borrell 15 years ago.

The article details an incident in 1987, in which Borrell admitted to tricking a woman into a sexual act by trespassing into her apartment bedroom in the early morning hours following a night of heavy drinking, according to court documents.

The woman, who was in her 20s and was engaged to a relative of Borrell's, said she thought Borrell was her fiance. Borrell was 35 at the time of the incident. He is 50 now.

The woman sought counseling and filed suit in 1993. Borrell paid her $20,000 in a settlement for "negligent infliction of emotional distress."

"I have admitted to this error," Borrell said of the incident.

"I have done everything in my power to make up for this, including paying the settlement," Borrell said.

"I have learned from this experience and moved on. It is no longer part of my life," he said.

The state Republican party supports Borrell. "I think it's over and done with," commented Bill Walsh, deputy executive director of the state Republican Party.

However, local Republicans reacted by asking Borrell to drop out of the race entirely, and pulling their support.

The Wright County Republicans, chaired by Randy Heuer of Howard Lake, distributed a release that indicated Borrell did not inform them about the indiscretion before they chose him.

"As a local political unit, we believe it is imperative to maintain a high standard of integrity among candidates offered to the public," according to a release by the Wright County Republicans.

"We have a search process . . . and request disclosure of any past incidents that may emerge during a campaign. To our dismay, the incidents recorded in Saturday's Star Tribune were not disclosed during the search committee interview."

"At stake is the integrity of our local organization and public trust in the grassroots process," according to the Republican release. "Due to these considerations . . . the leadership team is withdrawing its support. We have also requested that Borrell withdraw from the race in District 19B."

Borrell responded by saying that he hoped the Wright County Republicans would reconsider their "hasty decision asking me to withdraw."

Assistant House Majority Leader Tony Kielkucki of Lester Prairie also said he was unaware of the incident.

Borrell indicated that a criminal investigation ensued, contrary to what the Tribune article said, and that he was not charged with anything because he did not legally do anything wrong.

"There was no crime and nothing illegal took place on my part," he said. "The Wright County Attorney's Office dismissed the charges as meritless."

In a different letter shortly after the incident, Borrell wrote "The fault is entirely mine. Believe me, I don't understand myself, what possessed me to think so crazy, to do so wrong. I try to look for reasons to prove I'm sane. A 12-pack of beer, five screwdrivers and three kamakazis ­ sure I was drunk ­ real drunk."

"Yes, there was a full moon and all the craziness it can cause," the letter continued. "Also the Ides of March and the fact I'm 35 drinking and pretending I'm just 'one of the boys.' Midlife crisis and all. All the reasons in the world won't make it right."

"Our campaign is continuing as I am the endorsed Republican the ballot Nov. 5," Borrell said. He's had many supporters come forward since the story broke, asking him to continue, he said.

Borrell is a candidate for state representative in District 19B, which represents voters in the townships of Woodland, Victor, and Rockford; and the cities of Montrose and Waverly.

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