State Sen. Julie Rosen’s recent filing for re-election that marks her address “private” has again raised questions about where the powerful chair of the Finance Committee actually lives.
Does she live in the 684 square foot, basement-less four-room house without central air in Vernon Center she rents in her district? Or the 5,784 square foot, four bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom home with a 2,320 square foot garage she built in 2011 in Mendota — and not in her district? The Mendota residence is assessed at $1,344,300.
Rosen and her former husband, Tom, a wealthy agribusinessman profiled in a 2009 Connect Business article, divorced in 2010 and later sold their Fairmont home that resided in the Senate district. Rosen has rented the small, rural Vernon Center house since January 2014.
In 2016, Rosen filed for office using the Vernon Center street address. She is registered to vote at the address there and has mail delivery at a box in the Vernon Center post office. She has not claimed a homestead allowance on the Mendota property.
As the Mankato Free Press first reported on May 19: Rosen listed her place of residence as “private” on her affidavit of candidacy during May election filing time.
What does a “private” address mean? According to the affidavit of candidacy available on the elections page of the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office, a candidate can check a box next to a declaration that pledges his or her address is private, that a police report has been submitted or there’s an order of protection on file to show the candidate requires privacy for personal protection, “or my address is otherwise private by Minnesota law.”
Campaign filing documents include an “address of residence form” for filers seeking to make their addresses private. When completed, the form isn’t public, but is meant to prove the candidate lives in the district she hopes to represent.
Risikat Adesaogun, a spokesman for the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office, wrote in an email to the Reformer that “the certification is a self-certification. The candidate does not have to provide other documentation. They do fill out another form (nonpublic) that lists their address so there is documentation that the person lives in the district.”
In short, whether the candidate files with the Secretary of State’s office or at a local courthouse and asks that her address be made private — as Rosen did — the candidate is not required to provide a police report or an order of protection.
Police reports of calls from and visits to an address and orders of protection filed in Minnesota are public records. The Reformer contacted the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Department’s records to see if any police calls had been made to the Vernon Center address listed on Rosen’s 2016 filing. A police spokeswoman said there have been no calls to the address since June 2016.
A call to the clerk’s office at the Blue Earth County Courthouse revealed that no orders of protection existed for Rosen in any county in Minnesota.
Reached by phone, Rosen said that she had not moved from the Vernon Center address on her 2016 filing. She said she was surprised the question of her residence had come up, since “there are more important things going on.”
When asked about the address of residence form, she said that the clerk at the Blue Earth County Courthouse didn’t raise objections to the paperwork.
Rosen said she had no additional comment. She did not reply to an email and a text asking how much time she spent in the district in the last month and the last 365 days.
This is not the first time Rosen has faced questions about whether she lives in the district. The Mankato Free Press reported in 2016 that letters to the editor in local newspapers raised the issue. Rosen told the Free Press: “There’s rarely a time when I miss anything in my district,” she said. “But it gets to be kind of creepy when you see your square footage, the properties you own … they even talk about my land over in Lake City.”
Vernon Center residents John and Connie Rollings were among those who raised questions about Rosen’s residence in 2016.
In an email to the Reformer, the Rollings wrote, “We are concerned as to whether Julie Rosen really lives in this district. In the past days, this concern has been heightened by her choosing to keep her local residence address ‘private’ on her application for reelection.”
Reached by phone, Blue Earth County DFL Chair Mark Halverson, a Mankato attorney, was more blunt.
“It stretches credibility to ask us to believe that she built that large of a new home in Mendota and not use that as her main residence,” he said.
However skeptical Halverson and voters in her district might be, Blue Earth County DFLers are not likely to spend time and resources in an attempt to seek answers to their questions.
Indeed, the DFL was unable to field a candidate to run against Rosen. Instead, the veteran lawmaker will face off against David Pulkrabek, a Blue Earth resident running under the Legal Marijuana Now party banner. Given Rosen’s long-standing anti-cannabis position, sparks could fly.