Using tax dollars for political ads?


Since filing for re-election in the Nov. 8 general election, Faribault County Sheriff Mike Gormley has been using taxpayer money to buy print ads.

According to the county auditor/treasurer’s office, vouchers submitted by the Sheriff’s Office have been paid using general fund money.

So far, county commissioners have approved paying for May, June, July and August ads totaling nearly $1,100.

Gormley says the ads aren’t campaign related and not being used to gain a fifth four-year term.

None of these ads are seeking political support,” he says. “The sheriff’s office has historically used grant funds and levy funds to promote positive public relations with the county’s residents.”

The ads appear with several other businesses showing support for area community festivals, youth and civic groups, and campaigns such as National Safety Month or Fourth of July safety.

“Building a strong, trusting relationship between law enforcement and residents very much  serves a great public purpose,” says Gormley.

State law defines “campaign material” as any literature, publication, or material that is disseminated for the purpose of influencing voting and required to have a disclaimer.

While Gormley’s ads do not ask for someone’s vote, they are aimed at creating a positive image for his department and also include his name and title. As a result, he’s benefitting indirectly as a candidate.

Meanwhile, Gormley’s opponent North Mankato police officer Jacob Kral recently dipped into his campaign funds to spend several hundreds of dollars for print ads.

Recognizing that an incumbent has some advantages over their opponent, the County Board has an unwritten rule until the election is held.

Commissioners seeking re-election are not allowed to be the board’s spokesperson on KBEW a day after their monthly meeting to give a report.

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