Herald Journal - Enterprise Dispatch - Delano Herald Journal
Accusations against two Meeker Co. commissioners ‘unfounded’

Feb. 22, 2009

By Lynda Jensen
Editor

MEEKER COUNTY, MN – No charges of impropriety will be filed against two Meeker County commissioners, according to Meeker County Attorney Stephanie Beckman.

Accusations against county commissioners Amy Wilde and Wally Strand were deemed to be “unfounded,” Beckman said.

The accusations stem from two incidences in October.

The first incident took place Oct. 13, when HRA board member Darin Packard of Dassel made allegations in a letter to Sheriff Jeff Norlin against Wilde, alleging she engaged in official misconduct by a public official, in her capacity as a county commissioner.

Packard was referring to Wilde being both a commissioner and HRA board member, saying it was a conflict of interest, Beckman said.

State statute addresses conflicts of interest, but expressly refers to personal or financial gain when it comes to this subject, Beckman said.

Although Wilde is an owner of rental property in Dassel, none of it involves HRA or voucher programs, Beckman said.

If an issue surfaced where a conflict of interest took place, then Wilde would simply abstain, which is customary for many public officials in different capacities.

Particularly in rural areas, it is common to have public officials wear many hats, she added.

This allegation was deemed “unfounded,” Beckman stated.

The second incident pertained to a complaint received by the sheriff’s office Oct. 22, in which two HRA board members, Wilde and Strand, were accused of assault and harassment after visiting an HRA housing unit in Dassel located by the creamery.

Wilde and Strand visited the complex to calm the fears of residents, who heard false rumors that the HRA housing unit was in jeopardy and would be closed.

They were at the housing unit to reassure residents their housing was safe.

Both Wilde and Strand thought the visits went well – until seven days later, when a complaint was called in, Beckman said.

“Amy was talking with a resident and put her hand on the resident’s shoulder,” Beckman said. This was construed as assault and harassment. Strand was accused of the same because he was standing nearby.

Wright County investigated this incident, and in fact Wilde was interviewed by a Wright County investigator, she said.

This complaint was also deemed unfounded.

“I knew all along it was a personal grudge, and it was false,” Wilde said. She also felt targeted as a public official, she said.

Norlin and Beckman referred these matters to other agencies in order to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

The Wright County Sheriff’s Office conducted a “full and complete investigation into the allegations,” which were determined to be “unfounded,” Beckman said.

The investigation was then reviewed for charging determination by the Sherburne County Attorney’s Office, which determined that insufficient evidence existed to go forward.


 

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