A judge ruled Friday that state Rep. Bob Barrett does not live in the Chisago County legislative district he represents and should be removed from the ballot.
Second Judicial District Judge George Stephenson found “clear and convincing evidence” that Barrett doesn’t live in House District 32B. But the final decision rests with the Minnesota Supreme Court, which will hear oral arguments on the case on Sept. 6.
In an e-mail, Barrett wrote, “I look forward to taking this to the Supreme Court and I am confident I will ultimately prevail.” The Republican lawmaker was first elected in 2010.
State law requires candidates for legislative office to reside in the district where they are running for at least six months before Election Day. A group of individuals from the area, who unsuccessfully challenged Barrett’s residency in 2014, brought another challenge this year.
In all, Stephenson wrote, three people visited the Taylors Falls rental home that Barrett says is his official address a total of 30 times between July 4 and Aug. 1 and found little to suggest the home was occupied. They knocked on the door multiple times, and set up a motion-sensitive camera that showed few signs of habitation.
Barrett owns a home in the nearby town of Shafer, in a different House district. He testified he has lived at the rental home since October 2015 but that his wife continues to live at the house they own. The owner of the rental property contributed to Barrett’s 2014 House campaign.
Barrett told the court he is interested in buying the rental house. But he admitted it currently has no cable or satellite television, no internet service, no trash pickup service and no washing machine or dryer. He claimed his wife has been avoiding the rental property because of what he called harassment by DFL activists.
“The evidence supports removing Candidate Barrett’s name from the ballot,” Stephenson wrote.