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Sens. Parry, Newman appealing dismissed complaint against Mark Ritchie

The two had accused the secretary of state of using his office to mislead voters about the potential costs and effects of the voting amendment.

Sen. Mike Parry is using his dwindling time in state office efficiently.

Parry, who is leaving the Legislature after an unsuccessful run for the 1st District Congressional seat, and Sen. Scott Newman appealed a complaint thrown out against Secretary of State Mark Ritchie that accused him of using his office to mislead voters about the potential costs and effects of the voting amendment, which failed at the polls Tuesday.

 The appeal, filed earlier this week, would likely have to be approved by Chief Administrative Law Judge Raymond Krause by Monday in order for any action to move forward.

 Parry said Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles separately is auditing Ritchie’s books to see if he used state resources to campaign against the amendment. The retiring senator from Waseca also asked Nobles to look into Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey for campaigning with  state funds, although it’s unclear if that investigation is moving forward.

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MPR reported in late October that Lindsey drew the senators’ ire for strongly opposing both the voting amendment and the marriage ballot question, which also failed at the polls on Tuesday.

 Nobles didn’t immediately return a call for comment about the status or existence of such audits.

 Judge Bruce Johnson dismissed the administrative complaint last week and cleared Ritchie of all allegations. He determined there wasn’t probably cause to move forward after a mid-October tele-hearing and after receiving additional documentation from both parties’ attorneys. If Krause decides not to take up the issue, it remains dead.

 “Obviously, it’s disappointing out of the chute, but we haven’t digested everything yet,” Parry said last week before the appeal.

 Ritchie has said he traveled the state to describe the amendment’s potential effects on Minnesota’s Election Day registration system and on absentee and military voting to educate voters.

 Johnson quashed Parry and Newman’s claims that Ritchie was using his website to promote false information. Because the potential cost estimates and expected effects of the now-dead amendment were opinion-based, neither violated Minnesota law, the judge said.