Rybak puts a pricetag on ethics

State auditor still swinging at MPLS pols

R.T. Rybak made a boo-boo in January, when he put out a "newsletter" from his office updating the good citizens of Minneapolis on all the hard work he's put in as mayor. Seems harmless enough, but many questioned Rybak's motivation, since the eight-page glossy more closely resembled campaign lit than anything that would cover official city business. Besides, he had never put out such propaganda his first three years in office.

Now he's going to pay--a little bit, anyway--after the city's ethics board determined Rybak didn't really owe the city a dime for the mailer. (Covered capably here by the Strib's Rochelle Olson.) The mayor decided to cough it up anway.

It's hard to muster any sympathy for the often-obsequious R.T., but this seemed like a political cheap shot from the beginning. Auditor Anderson is part of the new right rising in Minnesota, and those folks can barely contain their disdain for Minneapolis politicos and their touchy-feely form of governance. She jumped on this "issue" right away.

And while she says R.T.'s decision to pony up $10,000 out of his own pocket is "adequate," Anderson's still taking shots at Minneapolis ward leaders who have sent out similar newsletters in a campaign season. "It's good to get this behind him," she tells the Strib. "But now what about the council members?" 

It's not hard to see the political haymaking here, as small-time as it is.

And about that $10,000. It's classic R.T.: equivocating just a bit, paying back some of the $42g to the city just to clear his name, but not quite owning up to any wrongdoing.

A final note: This "Code of Ethics," which came about after the federal investigations of former council members Brian Herron and Joe Biernat, is a new concept for the city of Minneapolis. The main advocate for creating such a panel? Hizzoner himself.

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