In the Spotlight

News & Features
More from MPR
Your Voice
DocumentJoin the conversation with other MPR listeners in the News Forum.

DocumentE-mail this pageDocumentPrint this page
Governor now wants to keep Andreotti file secret
Larger view
Maj. Gen. Eugene Andreotti (MPR file photo)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's office has switched positions on whether to release to the public an investigative file about the former head of Minnesota's National Guard, Eugene Andreotti. An attorney representing the state told a Ramsey County judge Friday that the governor's office now agrees that complaints in the file should remain sealed.

St. Paul, Minn. — Initially, the Pawlenty adminstration planned to release the details of an investigation into complaints against Andreotti, just days after he retired about two weeks ago. But Andreotti successfully obtained a court order keeping that file temporarily under wraps.

Andreotti argued that the private information, which even he hasn't been allowed to view, would jeopardize a separate investigation being conducted by the U.S. Air Force.

Attorneys representing the governor told Ramsey County Judge John Finley that after consulting with a representative of the Air Force, they decided the file should stay sealed until the Air Force completes its investigation, which could take six months.

Meanwhile, the Star Tribune newspaper asked and was allowed to intervene in the case. Attorneys for the Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press argued the public has a right to know the details of the governor's investigation into a high-ranking official, particularly now that the official is retired.

Judge Finley decided to extend the temporary restraining order keeping the files secret until he can read all of the file documents -- he said they were sent to him late. In addition, Finley said he'd also consider a proposal by the Star Tribune to release some of the file's contents, if he determines that the information in question would not jeopardize the Air Force investigation.

The judge said he'd rule as soon as possible, but that in the meantime a gag order still exists. After the hearing, Andreotti's attorney Tom Plunkett declined to elaborate on the case.

"I'm not going to comment on the case because the judge has issued a gag order in this matter. I think it would be very unprofessional on my part to make further comments on this matter off the record," said Plunkett.

But Paul Hannah, an attorney representing the St. Paul Pioneer Press, did talk afterwards. He said the gag order pertains to the information in the file, which he's not privvy to anyway.

Hannah repeated what he argued in court -- that the public has a right to know the details of the Andreotti file. He said if Air Force officials were so worried about the details going public, they should have had an attorney representing them in the hearing.

"If the Air Force was really concerned about an investigation they thought was going to be jeopardized, would one of the several hundred thousand federal lawyers -- somebody could've broken away for an hour and come over and told that to the judge. But they didn't say that," said Hannah. "Somebody signed an affadavit, and it was submitted on behalf of the person who's the subject of the investigation -- which I think is enormously ironic."

Judge Finley took the case under advisement, and could rule at any time.

Respond to this story
News Headlines
Related Subjects