The Minnesota Attorney General’s office has revived its legal effort to force the three trustees of one of the state’s oldest and largest philanthropies to step down pending a civil trial.

Last week, Attorney General Keith Ellison filed a legal appeal with the Minnesota Court of Appeals seeking the temporary removal of Otto Bremer Trust trustees Brian Lipschultz, Daniel Reardon and Charlotte Johnson. The appeal revisits allegations of self-dealing, excessive compensation, creating a hostile work environment and attempting to sell controlling interests in the philanthropy’s major asset — Bremer Bank — to outside investors to boost their own management fees.

The state attorney general’s office last year asked a Ramsey County District Court probate judge to replace the trustees with interim leaders while allegations were sorted out by the courts. In November, District Court Judge Robert Awsumb declined that request, while laying out conditions for interim relief that the trustees must meet. The trustees were barred from making any new investments in private equity funds or hedge funds without a court order or written approval from the state attorney general.

Other conditions related to allegations from current and former trust staff that the trio engaged in fraternity-style behavior in the office, including using an office laptop to look at Internet pornography. The November court order prohibited them from using trust office space, equipment and staff time for non-trust purposes without court approval and required them to contract a human resources professional.

The trustees have denied any allegations of wrongdoing and pointed to the philanthropy’s positive reputation as evidence of their good works. Through their attorney, they’ve noted that the trust’s founding documents limit total compensation for the trustees to 4 percent of the income from the Trust estate, and they’re currently pocketing only half of that.

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Bremer Bank, a $13 billion financial institution, is one of the state’s largest farm lenders and a major source of revenue for the 96-year-old philanthropy. It has distributed some $400 million to charitable causes across Minnesota, Wisconsin and Montana in the past eight years alone.