Crow Wing County: Questions Unanswered

The day before this past election, I linked to a piece of video of a man – Monty Jensen, a Brainerd resident, disabled Army veteran, and government worker – who claimed to have witnessed what appeared at the very least to have  been some odd behavior – and at most appeared to be voter fraud.

The original video is here.   The story brought this blog among the biggest surges of traffic it has ever had.

The story seems to have stalled, for the moment – partly because it’s been on a lot of peoples’ back burners, and partly because…

…well, we’ll get back to that.

As noted in this space back in November, Monty Jensen filed an affadavit – sworn under oath to be truthful, under penalty of a potential charge of perjury – with Crow Wing County attorney Donald F. Ryan, on November 1 – the day before election day.  His affadavit recited what he’d seen, pretty much as he related the story to me – which is as concise a summary of what Jensen alleges as there is.  Go and read it and refresh your memory.

And for the next six weeks, not a whole lot happened.  The Crow Wing County Sheriff’s office did an investigation;  in due course, County Attorney Ryan said that there was no evidence of voter fraud.

And that was pretty much that.

Well, at least as far as official channels in Crow Wing County were concerned, so far.

But that’s not the entire story.

On December 17 – after the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office investigation had wrapped – the Minnesota Freedom Council sent a letter to then-representative Dan Severson, long-time Minnesota House rep for the area and recently defeated in a bid to replace Mark Ritchie as Secretary of State.

The crux of the letter was a list of 13 questions (any typos are my fault):

Questions that remain unanswered:

1. Were all parties interviewed for testimony?  Clearly this is not the case since no-one approached the other eyewitness (Mr. Jensen’s girlfriend).  How can this be a “complete” investigation?

2. Was the party or parties involved with the possible voter fraud positively identified by the two eyewitnesses?  If not, how can anyone be sure that the Crow Wing County Sheriff investigators are talking to the same suspect?  We have two conflicting testimonies; one says she was simply “filling in ovals where there were dots” on the ballot.  The other said the disabled voter didn’t say in the voting booth but a “few seconds” and never had a pencil or pen in hand and didn’t have time to talk to their assistant about their voting preferences.  Maybe there are two different people.  How do we know?

3. Why was there no official report that has been put forth stating the reasons for dismissal with the findings of fact that can be confirmed or contested?

4. Of the statements that were taken, were affidavits filed for each of those statement under penalty of perjury?

5. Was a list compiled of all the individuals who voted under this complaint, and were they identified as being eligible to vote?  (ie. did any of them have their voting rights revoked under court order ruling them “vulnerable adults”, and were they registered to vote in the district?)

6. Since this was four days prior to election day and Minnesota does not have early voting for elections, what statute was used to allow this early voting, and were any of the individuals that voted vouched for by any resident managers?  Many may have residency outside their group home (this is only acceptable on election day (MN statute 201.061 Subd 3)

7. Was it determined how may voters were helped by this group home workers?  Minnesota statute 204C.15 Assistance to Vot3rs states that “no person who assists another voter as provided in the preceding sentence shall mark the ballots of more than three voters at one election”.

8. Were there election judges present at the Crow Wing County Auditor Office?  Voters who need assistance may request aid from two election judges who are members of different major political parties.  All voters who need assistance should have this option availble.

9. Why hasn’t Mr. Jensen been asked to identify the Crow Wing County Auditor employee who stated “you don’t know the half of it, this was the fourth group today”.

10. When we asked (county auditor) Deb Erickson if she know if there were any disabled people or residents from group homes voting late on Friday October 29th, she said she didn’t know.  Why then did Deb Erickson contact Jared Peterson, on Monday November 1 after [Monty Jensen’s] affidavit was filed?  (According to KSAX article).  Seeing that the Auditor is not an “investigator”, this opens up a question of conspiracy.

11. Why were there two investigators assigned to the case interviewing Mr. Jensen’s estranged father?  Were they investigating Montgomery Jensen?  They had time to send investigators to interview someone who has no relationship to the case, but not the other eyewitness?

12 Under MN Statute 201.175, a grand jury must be called to present the evidence and let the grand jury determine whether ot proceed [with indictments].  Why wasn’t one called?  Did the Crow Wing County Attonrey usurp the power of the grand jury by ruling on his own?  Or did the Crow Wing County Attorney purposely avoid gathering enough evidence (including interviewing the other eyewitness) to force the calling of a grand jury?

13. There conflicting testimony by the eyewitnesses.  Crow Wing County Attorney said there is “no evidence” of voter fraud.  If two credible eyewitnesses can not convict someone guilty of voter fraud then how could anyone ever be convicted without an outright confession?  You cannot bring cameras or recording equipment and there is no one there at the county monitoring for abnormalities.

It is our opinion that this investigation brought forth even more questions than it answered in trying to resolve legitimate concerns in the voter fraud case involving the disabled.

If the worker was identified as stated by the County Attorney as the person in teh complaint, was that person compelled to submit an affidavit?   If she did and the statements are of conflicting facts (ie. “the person walked away and was pulled back to the booth only to wander away again at which time the worker filled out the ballot and put it into his hand” vs. “they told me the answers to the questions and I filled in the oval for them”. ) then the issue is to be forwarded to a Grand Jury for investigation.  If she did complete an affidavit then th issue should be forwarded to the Grand Jury to complete the in depth investigation by evenly weighted statements of fact.  It is not the County Attorney’s prerogative to simply dismiss the issue as not having merit.  Arbitration of issues of this importance are determined by a group of peer,s not that of an elected [official].

In short, the matters in question have not been adequately addressed, nor has a written report been forthcoming.  The gravity of the charges would dictate that not only is further investigation required nd should be forwarded to a Grand Jury, but that the State Attorney General’s Office should be advised in the matter and an opinion sought on whether Crow Wing County Attorney Mr. Ryan has violated statute by “refusing or intentionally failing to faithfully perform” his duties as County Attorney.v>Your immediate action is requested.

The questions raised in the letter make a useful framework for addressing the rest of this story.   I’ll be addressing one or two of these questions a week for the next couple of weeks.

At least one other Twin Cities reporter is working on this story.  It’s going to be an interesting week or two.

64 thoughts on “Crow Wing County: Questions Unanswered

  1. I’d be happy to speak with Jensen, Mitch. I made you the offer that you and Jensen do an interview with Pen and I, so you could be privy to the questions and answers.

    And I turned down the “offer”. You are the one that has tried to jack me up for only talking with one “side” of this story. So go for it. Contact Monty and his girlfriend. Or anyone that doesn’t already agree with you.

  2. Of course, the other condition of doing that interview was that you actually fact check your other voter fraud story with a second source

    FACT CHECK: I conceded the story.

    And, at least as re my blogging life, I don’t ever let anyone dictate “conditions” to me. Nice try.

    Move on.

  3. There was an excellent and thorough investigation done already

    According only to you.

    More on that next week.

  4. If Jensen and his buddies had their way, the 320,000 brain injured vets who are returning from combat in Afghanistan and from Iraq would be denied the right to vote.

    Now you’re just raving.

  5. There are no facts that will persuade you Mitch.

    Of course there are.

    You just haven’t provided any.

    Seriously; you have provided us with some “he-said/they said” conflicts, a fuzzy recollection of numbers (which would seem to contradict your own statement about the timing of the visits to the courthouse), and one direct contradiction of County Attorney Ryan’s own statement.

    I can be persuaded. DG. You’re just not doing it.

    You do see the difference, right?

  6. People are very rarely prosecuted for perjury
    You might want to check with Bill Clinton on that “fact”.

  7. paraphrasing then:
    Mitch says “I know how to make a fool wait 72 hours”
    DG says ” How, come on, tell me how”
    Mitch says “I’ll tell you next week”

  8. Kel,


    No, I finally have a little bit of time to try to tie up some of the many loose ends I left on this story last year. Between the job switch, some family stuff and a crushing case of post-election burnout (I was on blog-turbocharge for six months before the election, and I decompressed HARD), I really had a hard time bringing myself to do a lot of serious reporting for a good two months after the election.

    But that’s changing, slowly.

    How slow?

    More next week.


  9. Mitch

    nothing personal.

    More than a comment on you I was making an observation about your would-be inquisitor and her lack of discernment.

    Some of the vaudeville gags never go out of style particularly when you’ve got someone as credulous as DG around.

  10. “Her lack of discernment”. Heh. As an occasional commenter here used to say, “a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants”.
    This has been very entertaining.

  11. I decompressed HARD

    No wonder I couldn’t find any Scotch in the liquor stores this past week!

  12. Cut Berg some slack. He’s a large dude. It would take him longer to decompress than the average individual.

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