The Potluck

Judge finds probable cause to conclude Shakopee House candidate violated campaign law

By: - July 11, 2022 2:51 pm

A judge recently found probable cause to conclude former Republican Rep. Bob Loonan of Shakopee violated state campaign law by claiming he’d been endorsed by the Scott County Republican Party.

The Scott County Republican Party alleges Loonan’s campaign literature violated state law by falsely claiming their endorsement, along with that of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, and by referring to Loonan’s “reelection” although Loonan is not the incumbent. The county party filed a complaint against Loonan with the Office of Administrative Hearings, where administrative law judges preside over cases. 

A probable cause hearing was held on June 29. Loonan’s lawyer argued that the campaign flier was from a previous campaign. But the judge ruled there was enough evidence to move to the next step, an evidentiary hearing before a panel of judges. The hearing will be held July 18.

Rep. Erik Mortensen unseated Loonan in 2018, and now Loonan is trying to unseat Mortensen, a right-wing firebrand whose Republican colleagues have called him everything from “the village idiot” to “a petulant child.” He’s a hero to a far-right group called Action 4 Liberty, which is challenging what they call “weak and feckless” Republicans across the state. 

Neither Mortensen nor Loonan was endorsed for House District 54A during the March 4 GOP convention, so they’re duking it out in a primary for the third time.  Party infighting isn’t unusual in Scott County: Loonan accused county party officials of favoring Mortensen in 2020, too. 

“We’re again happy that the judge recognized that this evidence is credible and that this will continue forward to a full hearing on the issue,” Scott County GOP spokesman Dale Even said in a press release.

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs.