There's now a price tag on Pete Stauber's county emails with the National Republican Congressional Committee - $28,000.
That's the price the St. Louis County Board agreed on Tuesday to settle a lawsuit filed by the state DFL party in October during the height of a controversy surrounding then-commissioner and now-Congressman Stauber.
The board voted 6-0 to approve the settlement. It resolves any future litigation issues and brings the matter to a close, said county spokesperson Dana Kazel.
"The settlement amount is reasonable given the facts and circumstances of the action, and the proposed settlement will allow the defendants to avoid the expense and risk associated with further litigation," said a recommendation letter to the County Board from County Attorney Mark Rubin and County Administrator Kevin Gray, who was listed as a defendant along with the county in the lawsuit brought by the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.
Stauber had used his county email account to communicate with the NRCC early on during his successful campaign for Congress.
A week before the November midterm elections, a judge in District Court in Duluth ordered the emails released. The contents proved inconsequential, revealing mostly scheduling and minor strategizing details. Stauber went on to a convincing victory and is seated as the representative of the 8th Congressional District.
The County Board met in closed session last week to discuss the settlement.
Following media reports uncovering the emails, the county fought for two months to keep the contents of the emails sealed. The county argued that state statute protected the privacy of individuals corresponding with elected officials.
The emails were pursued vigorously by media outlets and political organizations throughout the state.
In its lawsuit, the DFL claimed the county was in violation of the state's data practices act. The lawsuit followed an advisory opinion by the Minnesota Department of Administration which said the emails were public and that St. Louis County acted improperly by refusing to release 15 emails involving the NRCC found in Stauber's county email account earlier this year.
Elected officials are prohibited by county policy from using county funds, equipment, supplies, employees, or facilities in support of their own campaigns.
"I'm a law-abiding citizen and happy the county released its emails," Stauber said on Oct. 31 - the day the emails were made public.