The Minnesota Racing Commission voted Thursday to issue a written reprimand to deputy executive director Mary Manney after receiving the results of an investigation into her conduct.
The findings of the investigation by the Minnesota Management and Budget Office--and the reason behind it--have not been made public because of data-practice laws. But some details were disclosed during the discussion of the probe at a special Racing Commission meeting Thursday.
Commissioners referred to “a strong case’’ that Manney had violated an MRC rule, and to evidence that she had made “disparaging remarks’’about commission Chairman Jesse Overton. Manney has been on paid leave since Sept. 7 as the commission awaited the results of the investigation.
She declined comment Thursday, as did Jamie Flom of the Engelmeier and Umanah law firm, which is representing Manney.
“We will wait for the process to be completed before making a comment,’’ Flom said. The commission voted 5-3, with Overton abstaining, to issue the reprimand.
Some commissioners argued for a stronger penalty. They discussed a range of potential punishments, including termination, suspension or demotion. They settled on a letter that will address the findings of the investigation and set expectations for Manney’s future conduct. Commissioner James Lane is expected to draft the letter in consultation with MRC attorneys, and it will be reviewed by the commission at a meeting Wednesday.
Flom said that neither she nor Manney has seen a copy of the investigator’s report.
Manney’s attorneys previously had said that she had been given no information about why the investigation was launched, other than to say she had been “insubordinate."
Manney had been viewed as a potential successor to former executive director Richard Krueger, who retired late last year.
At a separate meeting Thursday, Lane said 11 or 12 qualified candidates have emerged for the executive director’s job. Phone interviews will be conducted next week, with the goal of narrowing the list to five or six by Feb. 1.
The commission also urged Canterbury Park and Running Aces Harness Park to settle two ongoing disputes that could affect purses at the two horse-racing tracks.
Running Aces has sent a letter to Canterbury saying it intends next month to terminate the simulcast agreement between the tracks, which allows both to take wagers on thoroughbred, quarter horse and harness racing. Without an agreement in place, each track can simulcast only the same kind of races it conducts live.
Running Aces would be limited to simulcasting only harness races, and Canterbury could simulcast only thoroughbred and quarter horse races. Simulcast revenue is an important funding source for live-racing purses at both tracks.
The operator of Running Aces also has sued Canterbury and its thoroughbred horsemen’s association to end payments to Canterbury’s purse fund that were negotiated as part of the deal that granted Running Aces its initial operating license.
Track officials claim that Canterbury has breached the contract, and they have suspended the payments.