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Ventura says he'll fight to block income disclosure bill
By Tom Scheck
Minnesota Public Radio
May 3, 2002

Gov. Ventura has promised to veto a bill targeting his outside income. The bill would require all members on the state Board of Investment to disclose any money earned outside of office. The governor also threatened to file a lawsuit if lawmakers override his veto and the bill become law. Lawmakers say Ventura is afraid of disclosing his private income and say they'll continue to push ahead.

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(MPR Photo/Tom Scheck)

Gov. Ventura says lawmakers are hypocritical for passing a bill that would require him to disclose his outside income while not holding themselves to the same standard. The House passed legislation this week that would require every member on the state's Board of Investment to disclose all outside income. Ventura and the state's four other constitutional officers sit on the board. Lawmakers say the bill's intent is to make sure board members don't have a conflict of interest when they decide how the state invests its money.

Ventura, however, called the legislation a "personal attack." He says all of the state's elected officials should be required to disclose outside income. The House considered such a wide-ranging measure, but the amendment died during debate.

"I'm all for it if they include themselves. To me it's total hypocrisy and they're a bunch of hypocrites if they're going to say that if I have to disclose and they don't. They have as much opportunity for conflict of interest as I ever would," Ventura said.

Lawmakers have been upset with Ventura's moonlighting activities almost since the day he took office. Ventura has written two books, appeared in a film, on TV and was a commentator for the now defunct XFL football league since he's been elected.

Lawmakers last year included the full disclosure provision in the state government finance bill. They scrapped the provision after Ventura threatened to veto the entire bill.

This year the House passed the measure with a veto proof majority in hopes of getting the bill to the governor's desk.

Ventura said he'll veto the bill if it arrives on his desk and will go to court if lawmakers override his veto. He said an attorney has told him it's unconstitutional.

"It was a lawyer friend of mine, I'm not a lawyer. He just says the constitutionality of this is bad. And I'll just follow attorney's opinions and advice," he said.

Ventura said he believes the bill would require doctors or lawyers to disclose all of their patients and clients if they were elected to constitutional office. He says that would conflict with privacy rules.

Ventura spokesman John Wodele said the office hasn't started researching the bill but believes it could violate both first amendment and privacy rights.

Lawmakers who support the measure say they believe the bill is legal. The bill's author, Rep. Matt Entenza, DFL-St. Paul, says doctors and lawyers would only have to disclose income. The St. Paul DFLer, who is also an attorney, says he thinks the governor is afraid the public will see how much money he's made outside of office.

"I think it's ironic that the governor is so opposed to disclosure that he'd hide behind some lawyers. But if he wants to do that, I'll pay his filing fee personally and walk him into court and he will lose because he has to make those disclosures if they're passed. I don't understand why he wants to hide so much. The public, he always says, has the right to know and he seems to want to hide from the public," Entenza said.

The Senate has yet to take up the bill.