NB attorney says Borchardts acted in personal capacity with flier

Voters in North Branch, by more than a 70 percent margin, decided on Election Day to keep the city’s water and light commission, but that doesn’t mean issues related to ballot question are finished.
At the end of the Nov. 15 North Branch City Council meeting, City Attorney Trevor Helmers addressed complaints the city had received regarding the “vote yes” mailer that Council Member Joyce Borchardt and her husband Tom had sent to North Branch residents prior to Election Day.
“I have reviewed the complaints that were brought up about the mailer,” Helmers said. “The specific standard of conduct that was tied to this was an allegation that this was both a conflict of interest and that this was using a person’s public position for personal gain. On the personal gain, simply, in my opinion, it is too attenuated here. There’s really no explicit evidence that Mrs. Borchardt would gain from advocating for or against this position, and I think it’s also important to point out here, very clearly, that this was an action that was taken by Mrs. Borchardt in her personal capacity. This mailer was not drafted, reviewed, approved or looked at by the council before it went out. When we’re talking about using a public position for personal gain, this was a completely personal act, and then, finally, this wasn’t really tied to any specific council action, so there wouldn’t be a conflict of interest under the law with a council position.”
He continued that the council may hold a hearing to address the complaints, but the council isn’t required to do so.
“Under the standards of conduct … I would point out, just for clarity, if anyone questions this, the majority rule-minority rights section of your policies and procedures is not included in the standards of conduct,” Helmers said. “When we look at a complaint under the standards of conduct, we only look at those standards. The majority rule-minority rights section is not a standard of conduct that would be a part of this complaint, so I take no position on that. That is outside of the scope of my review.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *