A Minnesota political consultant was acquitted of domestic assault charges.

A jury of five women and one man found Jonathan Aanestad not guilty of two misdemeanor counts of domestic assault and one count each of misdemeanor disorderly conduct and gross misdemeanor interfering with a 911 call.

“I’m very pleased,” Aanestad said. “I’m very concerned that false allegations have become routine … It did a lot of damage to me. It hurt my business, my family.”

Aanestad, 65, was acquitted Thursday in Hennepin County District Court.

According to a 2015 Star Tribune article detailing his legal debts regarding civil disputes with neighbors, Aanestad was tapped as Republican Party spokesman in 2009, but he quit after just one day and worked instead as a consultant for several years through Strother Communications Group. He has worked as a consultant to former state Rep. Connie Doepke, R-Wayzata.

He was charged in 2017 after his girlfriend at the time accused him of refusing to let her leave a home in Orono, and interfering with her 911 call.

Both the woman and Aanestad testified at his trial. Aanestad said he was at Lord Fletcher’s Old Lake Lodge at the time, and was innocent of the allegations.

Prosecutor Steve Tallen, representing the city of Orono, said it was a difficult case because no one else witnessed the alleged incident.

“I have to respect the verdict even if I disagree with it,” Tallen said. “The victim was an excellent witness … and these are hard cases.”

Aanestad said he believes the allegations were politically motivated because of his history as a Republican political operative. He said he hopes to work with state legislators to stiffen penalties for filing false allegations, particularly involving domestic abuse.

 

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