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Two Harbors City Council again sends mayor's comments to attorney general

A special meeting was held Tuesday night to discuss sending comments made by Mayor Chris Swanson in a New York Times article about cryptocurrency.

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Virginia Mayor Larry Cuffe Jr. and Two Harbors Mayor Chris Swanson take the stage to present a letter from six Iron Range mayors supporting the Trump-Pence campaign during Vice President Mike Pence's campaign visit to Lake Superior Warehousing on Aug. 28, 2020, in Duluth.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune
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TWO HARBORS — The City Council will once again send comments made by Mayor Chris Swanson to the Minnesota Attorney General to decide whether he violated any policies or laws.

Swanson made comments in a Jan. 25 New York Times article, "The Rise of Crypto Mayors," in which he expressed support for creating a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, to attract cryptocurrency investors to fund Two Harbors projects. In return, the investors would have voting power over the projects, according to the New York Times story.

This is the second time in a month the council has held a special meeting regarding Swanson's media comments, which Council President Ben Redden noted as he opened the meeting Tuesday night. At the last special meeting , held Jan. 20, the council asked Attorney General Keith Ellison's office to issue an opinion on Swanson's plans for an underwater hotel in Two Harbors.

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"I’m sure you all know why we are here again this evening, just 12 days after a similar meeting and for many of the same reasons. I have to say as council president, I take these meetings, and the reasons for having them, very seriously," Redden said. "These are not the things I want to be doing as a councilor for the city of Two Harbors. But to do a proper and just service, we must continue to be transparent, diligent and thoughtful."

The council approved two motions at the meeting, to again request an opinion from the attorney general on whether "a violation of the city code, charter, policies or state statute has occurred.”

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The motion was approved by Swanson and all councilors except Jackie Rennwald, who voted against the motion. Prior to the vote, she expressed frustration with the "particular shade of light" that has been cast on the city due to the comments and the actions that followed.

"I think this has been something that we don’t need to have out to the public as it has been," Rennwald said. "We have Capitol Days coming up and Two Harbors is a town that I care about. I’ve lived here 20 years. But this bothers me, thinking of the reputation and limelight and the particular shade of light that has been cast on us. I’d like to have a motion that we go straight to the ad hoc committee item and let it be dealt with that way."

Rennwald alluded to the second item on the council's agenda, to create an ad hoc committee that will not meet regularly, but only if and when it is necessary to review potential violations of the city code, charter, policies or state statute.

This motion passed unanimously and without comment, although Councilor Cathy Erickson, who was attending the meeting virtually, had raised her hand to attempt to comment during the discussion period. The rest of the council attended in person and did not notice Erickson's attempts until after the vote was taken.

Swanson did not comment at the meeting.

Teri Cadeau is a general assignment and neighborhood reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. Originally from the Iron Range, Cadeau has worked for several community newspapers in the Duluth area for eight years including: The Duluth Budgeteer News, Western Weekly, Weekly Observer, Lake County News-Chronicle and occasionally, the Cloquet Pine Journal. When not working, she's an avid reader and crafter.
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