She violated the law by spending campaign money on hair cuts, dry cleaning, and AAA coverage, a three-judge panel ruled today. The Minneapolis City Council President must pay a $200 fine.
Former South High School social studies teacher Warren Kaari filed a complaint against Barb Johnson's use of campaign funds after a November expose in City Pages pointed it out. In January, Kaari complained in a St. Paul hearing room that Johnson had inappropriately spent campaign money on hair cuts, dry cleaning, AAA, cell phone, her land line at the lake house, Internet service, Dunkers membership, advertisements in the Northside Arts Collective catalog, food and beverages provided to campaign volunteers, and bartending services.
The judges agreed about the hair cuts, dry cleaning, and Triple A. They did not agree about the rest. Here is their ruling.
The January hearing on the expenditures took on a highly personal tone, with Kaari showing disdain for the councilmember and often adopting a confrontational tone. The judges' findings of fact reflect the very personal nature of the hearing. Among the facts of the case they laid out in their decision is this:
9. Ms. Johnson's appearance, and in particular her hairstyle, has been the subject of comment by the local media. As a result of sometimes pointed critiques, Ms. Johnson now makes a greater effort to look her best in public. Mindful of the press commentary, her practice is to schedule hair cuts and hair coloring sessions on a more regular basis.
And this ...
18. On one occasion, when Ms. Johnson was campaigning at a neighborhood ice cream social, she spilled chocolate sauce on her silk blouse. Ms. Johnson charged the costs associated with dry cleaning her blouse to her campaign.
Neither Johnson nor Kaari could be immediately reached for comment.