Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date: May 11th, 2017
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
JPA Editorial Team
According to Minnesota statute, undertaking or attempting to build a dam on a Minnesota river is a crime if: 1) it is attempted without a permit from the Minnesota DNR; or 2) if it is undertaken after the DNR has denied a permit for the dam. The crime is punishable by imprisonment and a fine. MN Statute 103G.141. Like other crimes, you don’t have to actually build or complete the dam to be convicted of this crime. The crime is committed when the person “does an act which is a substantial step toward, and more than preparation for, the commission of the crime.” MN Statute 601.17. Under Minnesota’s conspiracy statute, a person is guilty of a crime if they agree with or “procure” another person to commit the criminal act and one or more of the planners do some overt act in furtherance of the plan. MN Statute 103G.141 and 609.175.
The Minnesota DNR denied the FM Diversion’s permit application in October of last year. Since then Moorhead’s Mayor, vice-chair of the FM Diversion, has physically participated in the construction of a high hazard dam on the Red River. There are photographs on the FMDiversion website, showing her shovel in hand, commencing the construction. Since the October permit denial Moorhead and Clay County officials have approved contracts, made agreements and serve in leadership positions of an organization that is funding and supporting this criminal enterprise. They and their organization openly flaunt Minnesota’s criminal laws. This issue was brought to a head when the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, citing the criminal statute, MSA 103.G141, publicly declared that the ongoing construction of the Diversion Authority dam violated Minnesota’s criminal law. (See DNR’s Motion and Memorandum for Preliminary Injunction, April 21, 2017).
When a public officer, such as Moorhead’s Mayor or County Commissioner, does something in their official capacity knowing that their conduct violates Minnesota law, they may be committing another crime that is punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of $3,000.00. MN Statute 609.43.
Minnesota’s Attorney General’s office has made it clear that the fact that the Diversion Authority is paying the Army Corps to hire the contractors does not “launder” away the violation of Minnesota’s law. Further, the federal judge in the ongoing litigation between the State of Minnesota and the FM Diversion has indicated that even if the Army Corps was somehow immune from the requirements of Minnesota law, Moorhead and Clay County may not be.
This is serious. Moorhead and Clay County leaders could face criminal prosecution and jail for their actions. Have they been advised to ignore Minnesota’s criminal laws and to continue with this conduct? Shouldn’t there be an investigation by an independent prosecutor and, if warranted, criminal prosecutions?