Town lawyer: Two Harbors mayor utilized place ‘for private reward or enterprise interests’ – Duluth News Tribune

TWO HARBORS — Mayor Chris Swanson continuously applied his formal metropolis place “for own reward

TWO HARBORS — Mayor Chris Swanson continuously applied his formal metropolis place “for own reward or small business pursuits,” a violation of the city’s communications plan, the city attorney has uncovered.

Swanson also made various related town code violations, but proof offered to the lawyer did not demonstrate any town constitution violations.

The findings come in a vast-ranging memorandum of view prepared by Town Attorney Tim Costley inspecting problems relating to Swanson’s underwater-lodge pursuits, a web page soliciting traders in the underwater lodge, tweets about a town cryptocurrency and a single of his organizations, employing his title as mayor to progress his have fiscal or private fascination and also working with information obtained in self confidence to progress his own monetary or private fascination.

However the impression was not offered at Monday evening’s meeting, it was offered in a complete council packet accessible for community evaluate.

For the reason that the view was completed Sunday, Swanson questioned the council to drive back discussion on it so he experienced much more time to overview it. He did comment on most of the difficulties in the impression in the course of the bulletins portion of the assembly.

It is expected to be regarded as at the April 25 conference. Swanson will not be at the April 11 meeting.

After the conference Monday, Swanson declined to comment to the News Tribune precisely on the memorandum of opinion.

In the belief, Costley mentioned in all matters he deemed, there was no proof the metropolis entered into any contracts and that he experienced “no immediate proof that Mayor Christopher Swanson has any particular money interest in these matters.”

In August 2021, Swanson appeared as a visitor on the “

Talk to a Billionaire Podcast,

” wherever he reviewed ideas for a $400 million underwater resort and submarine with “Mr. O,” which is a pseudonym for a guy boasting to be a billionaire. He was

later recognized as Daniel Victor Hancock, a Las Vegas felon with a historical past of luring in buyers on vacant claims

.

Costley wrote that Swanson unsuccessful to make a disclaimer that viewpoints were being his have and that they are not agent of those people of the metropolis of Two Harbors, as needed by the city conversation coverage.

“The illustration by Mayor Swanson that element of the strategy for the underwater resort includes an RV park as portion of the city’s municipal golfing training course indicates that the city has these a approach,” Costley wrote. “This is not precise and quantities to a misrepresentation. Making this assertion and representing it as town company with no utilizing a disclaimer, is a violation of this policy.”

“My feeling is that pinpointing himself and/or letting himself to be recognized as the mayor of Two Harbors in this podcast, to boost his individual business interest and potential private gain, is a violation of this coverage,” Costley wrote.

All through Monday’s assembly, Swanson apologized for the interruptions triggered by his underwater-hotel concept and that it would not be in the city limitations simply because it would be underwater in Lake Outstanding.

“Needless to say, the past few months for me have been extremely humbling,” Swanson stated. “I want to deeply apologize for the interruptions that this has brought on this council.”

Swanson also instructed the council he experienced disclosed plans to the town legal professional.

“Tim (Costley), I’m not throwing you less than the bus here, but I sat in your place of work and we experienced a conference, and there were being witnesses current, and I informed you about this Mr. O and economic improvement job,” Swanson mentioned. “I feel that was important to share since I never know that men and women know that.”

Costley responded afterwards by calling that “an incorrect statement” and claimed he informed Swanson at the time that an underwater resort was a “pipe dream that will under no circumstances take place.”

“So to indicate that I knew a little something beforehand and that I was associated with Mr. O, or knew that was section of what was going on, I want this council to know that, that is not accurate,” Costley mentioned.

The report cites a tale from the Duluth Monitor information site outlining that Brian Entzion, of Knife River, met with Swanson and Lake County Chamber of Commerce President Janelle Jones in 2017 to share his vision to get the Lou’s Fish House creating in Two Harbors for his individual enterprise.

By 2018, a firm fashioned by Swanson’s spouse, Rebecca Swanson, acquired the residence and later on reopened it. Entzion claimed Swanson applied the info he delivered to impact his wife’s purchase of the residence.

Costley reported if that is genuine, and simply because the info shared in the assembly would be deemed “trade magic formula facts,” it would be a violation of town code, which states employing nonpublic information and facts for economical or private desire is “unlawful.”

“If unrefuted … it is my impression that mayor Swanson been given information in his formal placement as mayor of the city which was employed to further his fiscal or other curiosity,” Costley wrote.

And, as with the other 4 issues Costley regarded, he mentioned Swanson utilised official metropolis placement “for individual advantage or organization pursuits,” which is prohibited by the communications plan.

Swanson resolved the challenge in the course of Monday’s conference, confirming he had met with Entzion but that it didn’t affect his wife’s acquire of the constructing.

“I really do not believe you can be expecting any person when they come to you and say they want to acquire your household and 8 or 9 months afterwards, they nevertheless have not built a order agreement to think that they’re super significant,” Swanson stated. “I’m sorry, Mr. Entzion, but that is how business enterprise works. You got to present that you’re significant.”

In accordance to a complaint designed by former Two Harbors metropolis planner Mark Johnson in 2020, then again in February 2022, Swanson was using his mayoral title and official city e mail to solicit cash for Mates of the Band Shell Park, which is hoping to substitute the bandshell in Thomas Owens Park with a carrying out arts centre.

At the similar time, Johnson said that Swanson’s business Garage Begins was billing the bandshell group $65 for every phone he experienced trying to solicit cash from Johnson.

Swanson serves as Garage Commences CEO,

in accordance to its website

.

Costley mentioned Swanson failed to include things like a disclaimer clarifying that he was not speaking in his official ability as mayor, which violates city code. Also, Swanson violated the communications plan by “using an official position for particular gain or business desire.”

“I emailed using my mayor e mail account,” Swanson explained Monday. “I must not have finished that.”

Costley explained an unfinished but reside web-site for the underwater-hotel project,

VibeTwoHarbors.com

, also violated city code and communications plan around Swanson’s use of his mayor title with out a disclaimer and for making use of his metropolis position “for particular profit or organization passions.”

A

contact form

on the Vivid Two Harbors internet site asks “individuals who are seeking for significant-return investments” to fill in their call data so that “Mayor Swanson will be in contact.”

“To search for investors and boost his individual company fascination and opportunity personalized financial gain is, in my feeling, a violation of this policy,” Costley wrote.

Swanson on Monday explained the web page was built “with the hopes of showcasing the awesome matters for interested firms that want to make expense in your community.”

Simply because there is no contract among the town and Vivid Two Harbors, there is no metropolis constitution violation.

The website also touts his daughter’s Two Harbors firms, Lou’s Fish Dwelling, Callie’s Sweets and Burlington Station, as “finished projects” by the Lively Two Harbors workforce.

“One could reasonably suppose from this representation that there is a business romantic relationship in between Lively Two Harbors and these a few entities. I do not have unbiased proof of any link,” Costley stated, introducing that Swanson said he invested $1.7 million in Callie’s Sweets for the duration of the Mr. O podcast.

“If this kind of a relationship is demonstrated in the long term, and the City Council voted to encourage that organization in any way, further more investigation would be necessary,” Costley explained.

Swanson has applied his “Mayor Chris Swanson” Twitter account,

@MayorSwanson

, to tout the probability of creating an official town cryptocurrency for Two Harbors. He also made use of it to encourage his Garage Starts off small business.

Costley explained each are violations of city plan.

When Swanson tweeted about the possibility the city attaining revenue from a cryptocurrency, then utilizing revenues to mine much more and also put some in an financial commitment fund where people can then vote on its use in metropolis projects, it was represented in a way that sounded like an official approach or plan as Swanson did not include a disclaimer, Costley wrote.

“The president (Joe Biden) has not long ago tweeted how he sees cryptocurrency as the long term,” Swanson explained Monday. “I did not feel individuals would believe that I was creating an official assertion for the city of Two Harbors.”

Costley wrote that his marketing of Garage Begins on Twitter violates the communications coverage because he is “using formal city positions for private earnings or small business interests.”

“The communications plan also prohibits developing social media account names that are tied to the town,” Costley wrote. “In my feeling, use of the title ‘Mayor Chris Swanson @mayorswanson’ on Mr. Swanson’s particular Twitter account is a violation of this coverage.”