A St. Francis woman says an Anoka County commissioner harassed her repeatedly after she raised concerns about a message he posted on Facebook as the insurrection by supporters of former President Donald Trump unfolded at the U.S. Capitol.
Danylle Peardon said her concern about the post quickly shifted to concerns for her safety.
She filed a police report Jan. 12 after Commissioner Matt Look sent her a series of text messages in which he claimed to be someone else and suggested he knew where she lives.
In an interview, Look denied that he harassed Peardon and said that she in fact harassed him by alerting other commissioners of their interaction. He described her complaint as a "fake police report."
"You can claim harassment all you want, and it seems like everybody just uses it willy-nilly today," Look said. "But the fact of the matter is it's pretty hard to prove."
Text messages provided to the Star Tribune show Peardon asked Look to stop texting her six times over the course of two days, and that he continued to contact her after she filed a report with the St. Francis Police Department.
St. Francis Police Chief Todd Schwieger said in an e-mail to the Star Tribune that the incident is not under investigation and criminal charges are not expected to be filed.
Peardon contacted other county leaders and staff in hopes of addressing her concerns but was unsatisfied with their response. Now, she is grappling with a reality of governance in the age of social media: Commissioners aren't held to a code of ethics and, like their constituents, can say or do what they want, so long as it doesn't break the law.
"[Look] sees no concerns with his actions," she said in an interview. "Who is holding him accountable?"
Anoka County Administrator Rhonda Sivarajah, County Attorney Tony Palumbo, Communications Director Erik Thorson, Board Chairman Scott Schulte and Vice Chairwoman Julie Braastad all declined to comment.
On Jan. 6, as a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, Look took to Facebook.
He posted a photo of a snarling wolf, with the message: "Because the sheep didn't like the look of the fence (orange) or the barb [sic] wire (attitude), they voted to take the fence down. The wolves now have free reign [sic]."
The comments section lit up with more than 150 responses. Some agreed with Look, while many, including Peardon, interpreted the post — which has since been deleted — as condoning the violent and deadly attack.
"I was so upset when I saw that, so upset for voting for him," Peardon said.
Look, who has served on the County Board for the past decade, said the post wasn't referring to the insurrection, but rather was in reference to the Georgia runoff election that gave Democrats control of Congress.
On Jan. 11, Peardon texted Braastad, asking who Look's boss is, so she could address her concerns about his Facebook post. Braastad replied that Look answers to voters, and suggested Peardon contact him with her concerns. She also asked for Peardon's name, which Peardon declined to provide.
The next day, Peardon got a text from a number she didn't recognize: "Matt Look's boss here. I understand you are trying to reach me. What is the issue?"
Peardon said she did a Google search and found the number belonged to Look Sign Inc., the commissioner's political-sign printing company. The two exchanged several messages in which Look claimed to be with Anoka County administration and Peardon countered that she knew the number belonged to Look and that she, as a constituent, was "1 of your many Boss's [sic]."
"If you contact me again I will file a restraining/harassment order," she wrote.
Look responded that, based on Peardon's address, she wasn't a constituent.
"I feel in fear for my life, now you are looking up my address which is obviously incorrect because he was on my ballot!" Peardon wrote. "I will be making a police report right now please leave me alone I'm begging you you're making me very scared."
Look responded: "Lol."
Peardon asked three more times for Look to stop texting her, each time eliciting a response from Look. Fearing for her safety as a single mom living with her teenage son, she said she called the Minnesota Attorney General's Office and was advised to file a police report.
'Accountable to the voters'
Officer Kurt Greene with the St. Francis Police Department came to Peardon's home Jan. 12, according to the police report.
Peardon told Greene about Look's Facebook post, the report said. "She did not like that a politician was making comments like that."
The report states that Peardon was concerned for her safety since the person texting her indicated they had her address. She shared on Facebook later that day that she had filed a police report, and she posted images of Look's deleted Jan. 6 post and screenshots of their texts.
Look texted Peardon on Jan. 13 asking her to remove her post. Peardon reached out to Greene, who advised Look to stop contacting her, according to a follow-up included in the report.
"I advised Matt that at this point nothing criminal has occurred so police will just be documenting due to it being an informational report," Greene wrote in the report.
In an interview, Look said his texts weren't threatening and he wasn't lying about being his boss because he owns and operates his own business. He said he got Peardon's phone number from Braastad and texted Peardon to determine the "threat level."
"I don't know who she is, I don't know if this is a prank, I don't know what sort of crazy is going on here," he said. "I didn't say I was coming over. I didn't say I was doing anything to her. I've made no threat whatsoever."
Peardon e-mailed the County Board and Administrator Sivarajah on Jan. 12 to express her concerns about Look. The only official response she received from the county was a Jan. 13 e-mail from Sivarajah.
"Commissioners are accountable to the voters and have no boss other than their constituents," wrote Sivarajah, a former county commissioner. "I have no suggestions beyond the actions you have already taken."
Unless a county board establishes a code of ethics or policies for conduct, nothing governs the way elected officials interact with constituents, said Julie Ring, executive director of the Association of Minnesota Counties. Ring said she's unaware of any county that has policies for social media use, though she noted that the Minneapolis City Council recently enacted social media restrictions.
"Social media engagement is the same as in-person engagement," Ring said. "[That's] good advice for all of us in how we think about our interactions online as being with real people."
Peardon said that while she has not heard from Look again, she's installed surveillance cameras around her home as a precaution.
When she contacted Look's colleagues, she said, she was hoping for more accountability or concern.
"None of it was addressed," she said. "Nothing was ever dealt with. None of it."
Kim Hyatt • 612-673-4751