'I have no idea where it will go': St. Paul City Council watching Thao investigation closely
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - If there was any awkwardness at Wednesday's St. Paul City Council meeting, attendees didn't notice--but behind the scenes some divisions are beginning to form over bribery allegations against City Council member Dai Thao.
"I have found him to be an honorable colleague," Council woman Jane Prince said. "I don't think this should be tried in the media."
Councilman Dan Bostrum, however, was dismayed at the allegations.
“I’m shocked and surprised that something like this happened," he said. "I have no idea where it will go.”
When asked if he had any knowledge of unethical or illegal practices on the part of Council member Thao, St. Paul City Attorney Samuel Clark said in an email, "I can say unequivocally that I did not see any of the evidence in this case until Fox 9’s report on Saturday."
In a follow-up email, the FOX 9 Investigators asked Clark if ever had to advise Thao regarding ethical or legal conduct. Clark said he could not answer because as city attorney he has an attorney-client relationship with the mayor and council members.
"This is not a situation where I am declining to answer your questions because I don't want to," Clark wrote. "It's clear to me that I'm ethically obligated as the city attorney not to answer."
The incident in question is a February meeting between lobbyist Sarah Clarke and Thao, as well as a subsequent text exchange between Thao's campaign manager, Angela Marlow, and Clarke.
The St. Paul Police Department referred the case to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for a criminal investigation, citing concerns over their conflict of interest.
Marlowe has been fired from her role as campaign manager because of the incident, though Thao insists that he's being set up.
"It was a set-up by a lobbyist who's married to [Minneapolis mayoral candidate] Jacob Frey, who's a supporter of [fellow St. Paul mayoral candidate] Melvin Clark and that will come up in the next few days," Thao said. "That's all I have to say for now."
Clarke, for her part, maintains that she did the right thing.
"This has nothing to do with Jacob, this has nothing to with Minneapolis or any of the other candidates. This is what Dai Thao did and that's wrong," Clarke said. "It's really challenging to be in this situation. I feel like I did the right thing and to be maligned this way is hard."