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Lucero, Kiffmeyer score big for Wright County taxpayers

Monday, August 26, 2019

 

Rep. Lucero (left), presents to the House State Government Finance Committee a bill he authored (H.F. 187) to reimburse Wright County for costs incurred to defend a case former Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto filed against the county. Lucero said he deemed the lawsuit arbitrary and frivolous and his bill successfully allowed Wright to recoup legal costs incurred in the case. Current State Audtior Julie Blaha (center), who succeeded Otto, and Wright County Assistant Attorney Greg Kryzer (right) joined Lucero as testifiers during the Feb. 28 hearing at the State Office Building in St. Paul.

BUFFALO, Minn. – Wright County recently received a check in the amount of $70,303 from the state of Minnesota, reimbursing the county and local taxpayers for costs incurred to defend a lawsuit brought by former State Auditor Rebecca Otto.

State Rep. Eric Lucero, R-Dayton, was the chief author of the bill in the House and Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, was the chief author in the Senate.

“The lawsuit brought by former State Auditor Rebecca Otto was arbitrary and frivolous from the beginning and this was confirmed with former Auditor Otto losing her lawsuit at every level including a unanimous ruling against her by the Minnesota Supreme Court,” Lucero said. “Sen. Kiffmeyer and I both championed the bill to ensure the reimbursement provision was signed into law because hardworking Wright County taxpayers should not have foot the bill.”

This issue dates back to 2015, when the Minnesota Legislature changed state law to eliminate the Office of State Auditor’s decades-old monopoly that had previously forced all Minnesota counties to hire the State Auditor to perform annually required financial audits. The 2015 law change permitted all 87 Minnesota counties the free-market choice of hiring private CPA firms to perform the audits.

Of the 44 counties which legally chose to hire private CPA firms after the 2015 law change, Wright County was one of three counties then-Auditor Otto sued attempting to retain her monopoly. Otto lost her lawsuit in Minnesota District Court but appealed, lost again in the Minnesota Court of Appeals but appealed, and then lost a third and final time in 2018 when the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Wright County.

Lucero and Kiffmeyer were the sponsors of the provision that resulted in the reimbursement to Wright County, allowing the $70,303 in local tax dollars used to defend the case to be recovered.

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