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Published March 1, 2024

Ethics complaints against Frey explained

Minneapolis residents filed ethics complaints against Jacob Frey, alleging he misused funds and failed to further the best interests of the city.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey spoke to students at an Minnesota Student Association forum in Blegen Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019.
Image by Tony Saunders
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey spoke to students at an Minnesota Student Association forum in Blegen Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019.

About 1,250 people submitted ethics complaints against Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey for how he handled the situation dealing with the police killing of Amir Locke on Feb. 2.

On Feb. 11, dozens of Minneapolis residents concerned with public safety gathered at Minneapolis City Hall to file ethics complaints against the mayor and mourn Locke’s death. Complaint numbers grew to over 1,500 by Feb. 15, according to Elianna Lippold-Johnson, spokesperson for the Residents Complaint.

The ethics complaints could result in sanctions against the mayor from City Council, or the mayor receiving additional education and coaching sessions if the ethics board finds there is enough evidence to move forward with an ethics review.

Lippold-Johnson, one of the residents filing a complaint, said she and others were upset because the mayor campaigned on improving public safety, which she says they believe has not been done.

“We are hoping for a full ethics investigation,” Lippold-Johnson said. “We feel like we deserve better as residents of Minneapolis. It does not feel like things have gotten better.”

The complaints allege that the mayor violated the Minneapolis ethics code by using funds unlawfully and failing to exercise judgment to further the best interests of the city. The complaints also focused on how Frey and Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman misrepresented Locke as a suspect and how Frey said he banned no-knock warrants when he did not, although these do not go against the Minneapolis ethics code.

The complaints read that the mayor unlawfully used funds by paying the SWAT team to enter the apartment where Officer Mark Hanneman shot and killed Locke and for keeping Hanneman on the city’s payroll after Locke’s death.

Hanneman is on administrative leave while the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Hennepin County attorney finish their investigation.

The second part of the complaints alleges that the mayor failed to exercise judgment that would further the best interests of the city. Lippold-Johnson said by recommending the no-knock warrant that resulted in Locke’s death, the lives of the officers and people in the apartment were put in jeopardy.

In an email statement to the Minnesota Daily, the Office of the Mayor referred to the ethics complaint as “baseless.”

“Just as past politically motivated complaints were dismissed without merit during the last election, these baseless allegations will be recognized as such. Mayor Frey is focused on partnering with community to enact policy reforms and bring stronger oversight to the department’s release of public information,” read the statement.

What the ethics complaints could result in
The Minneapolis ethics board will review the complaints made against the mayor. If the board determines there is sufficient information for the complaint to proceed, a preliminary evaluation and recommendation will be made.

If the board determines there is probable cause for the complaint, a hearing could be set or other recommendations could be made. The mayor could receive coaching sessions, additional education or agreements to change certain practices, according to Casper Hill, the media relations coordinator for the city of Minneapolis in an email to the Minnesota Daily.

If the board decides a hearing is necessary, witnesses and evidence will be brought forward and the board will decide if the evidence is substantial to proceed. If they decide there is enough proof, ethics board members will present their findings to the City Council and the council will decide whether to issue sanctions against the mayor. The ethics board cannot issue sanctions against elected officials.

Ward 2 City Councilor Robin Wonsley Worlobah said she was glad citizens were using their civic rights to hold city officials accountable.

“Unfortunately, [the mayor’s] lack of honesty about policy measures and also his inability to provide a set oversight over MPD has led to another tragedy of Amir being killed during a no knock warrant,” Wonsley Worlobah said. “Elected officials, including our mayor, should be held to account for when they fail to be honest about the policy decisions they’re making.”

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  • Meat Eater
    Mar 4, 2022 at 5:08 pm

    wow, a politician who didn’t follow through on his/her/it’s campaign promises, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that before