A developer and former Minneapolis City Council member did not violate the city’s ethics code when he used pseudonyms in an attempt to derail a business rival’s projects at City Hall, a city board has determined.
The city attorney’s office reviewed allegations against Steve Minn after another developer, Kelly Doran, said Minn’s use of fake identities to e-mail city officials and make online postings was inappropriate given his appointed role on the city’s public housing authority. After reviewing the two instances that fell within the ethical practices board’s one-year jurisdiction, ethics officer Susan Trammell determined Minn was acting in his private capacity and did not violate any ethics rules.
The board, at Trammell’s recommendation, dismissed the complaint on Feb. 20.
“The results speak for themselves,” Minn, who has apologized for the messages, said in a statement Wednesday. In a Jan. 25 letter to Trammell, he added that none of his actions pertained to business before the public housing authority.
Doran, who has feuded with Minn, initiated the review by delivering an inch-thick stack of documents to each City Council member and the mayor in January. It included recent e-mails Minn sent to City Council members, under fake names, accusing Doran of being “a crook,” “unethical” and “a bully.” Doran was seeking public funds to clean up a development site.
It also featured many posts Minn had made on the citizen message board e-democracy.org using fake names, some responding to each other.
Trammell wrote she could not find any section of the ethics code violated by the messages. “The use of such pseudonyms casts Commissioner Minn in an unflattering light and arguments could be made that he does not ‘maintain the highest ethical practices’ to which the city’s officials should strive,” Trammell added in her evaluation.
Minn served on the City Council from 1994-99. He was later a commissioner in Jesse Ventura’s administration, though the Senate rejected his confirmation in 2000. He is currently vice president of Lupe Development, which has built several buildings in Minneapolis.
Responding to the complaint dismissal Wednesday, Doran said, “If Minn’s behavior is not considered unethical, I don’t know what is.”