Man who made "get out of jail" cards for legislators says they're a big deal

These cards give legislators immunity from most non-felony offenses.

These cards give legislators immunity from most non-felony offenses.

Legislators opposed to a bill that would strip them of DWI immunity during the legislative session argue there's no evidence that the cards are ever actually used. The argument is that since there's no problem, there's no need for a legislative fix.

But that line of thinking doesn't square with the work experience of Evan Hiltunen, who worked for the secretary of state's office from 2000 to 2003 and was tasked with making the cards at the beginning of the 2002 legislative session.

"I don't remember how it landed on my plate, but one day I was asked if I could do the 'get out of jail' cards and I said, 'What's that?'" Hiltunen, who now works as a photographer, recalls. "They gave me a list of all the [legislators] that would be receiving them, I printed them up and had [then Secretary of State] Mary Kiffmeyer sign up. It was all done within two days."

"It's rare that things move that quickly," Hiltunen continues. "I thought, 'Oh, this is a big deal.'"

Asked whether he got the sense that the cards were especially important to legislators, Hiltunen replies, "It wasn't a sense, it was, 'These need to be done now.'"

"There was no slacking about it," he says. "It was very important for them."

But among employees of the secretary of state's office, the cards were indeed a laughing matter.

"We laughed about it and chuckled about how ludicrous it was that they would have these things," Hiltunen says. "The reason for the statute may not be so applicable now. We're not kidnapping legislators to keep them from voting, at least as far as we know."

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]