County balks at state opinion over Stauber emails

St. Louis County officials said Wednesday they won’t release emails between a national Republican group and a county commissioner now running for Congress in northern Minnesota.

The emails between the National Republican Congressional Committee and Commissioner Pete Stauber involved his government account. Stauber is now the Republican nominee for the open 8th Congressional District House seat and faces former DFL state Rep. Joe Radinovich in next month’s election.

The county has acknowledged that 15 emails exist. But the county won’t make the messages public unless either the NRCC or Stauber sign off, which so far hasn’t happened.

This week, a state data practices office issued an advisory opinion saying the messages are presumed to be public because the group doesn’t get the same protection as an individual would.

But a lawyer for St. Louis County has disagreed with that nonbinding interpretation. County Human Resources Director Jim Gottschald said the county stands behind its earlier decision.

“Emails between an elected official and an individual are private data,” he wrote. “Therefore, we have nothing further to add to our previous response on this matter without the consent of one of the parties.”

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