Benton County Board to sue county's auditor-treasurer over residency

1 March 2022

The Benton County Board plans to sue the county’s auditor-treasurer for allegedly lying about her residency while serving as an elected official.

The board on Tuesday unanimously approved authorizing Minneapolis lawyer Scott T. Anderson to file civil action in District Court against Nadean Inman, who was elected in 2018 after running for the position unopposed.

An investigation into Inman’s residency shows a Sauk Rapids address on her driver’s license but vehicle registrations and property tax records associated with a Becker address, according to Sgt. Luke McLean of the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office. The Sauk Rapids address is in Benton County; the Becker address is in Sherburne County.

McLean’s 2020 report also includes records obtained from Verizon with a warrant that show significant use of Inman’s phone at the Becker residence and her place of employment in Foley, but “little to no usage” at the Sauk Rapids address between July 2019 and April 2020.

State law dictates an individual running for local office must maintain residence in the district from which the candidate seeks election for 30 days before the general election.

“There are some significant issues here,” Jared Gapinski, a Benton County commissioner, said Tuesday. “How can you have two primary residences — one for your job and one for your taxes?”

All five commissioners expressed awe at the allegations and frustration that they only learned of the investigation in June of last year despite County Attorney Phil Miller contacting Sherburne County about the allegations in April 2020.

County commissioners serve four-year terms. Two of the current members were elected in 2018; the other three were elected in 2020.

“The previous board didn’t even know about the investigation, didn’t know about the outcome, none of the documents,” said Steve Heinen, board chair. “I don’t have a clue how we’re here. This is substantial information that [the] County Board didn’t know about but [we] are in charge of all of these budgets and people.”

In May 2020, McLean visited the woman who owned the Sauk Rapids address at which Inman said she resided. The woman, who worked for the county under Inman from July to December 2018, said Inman was a tenant at her address but she stopped renting the room to Inman in the spring of 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns.

McLean said the woman would not commit to saying Inman lived at the Sauk Rapids address, but said Inman paid $100 per month for rent. When McLean asked the woman if Inman was using the residence to retain her job in Benton County, the woman responded, “That’s what I would imagine,” McLean’s report states.

Inman declined an interview with McLean in 2020. She did not reply to a request for comment by the Star Tribune on Tuesday.

Inman filed her affidavit of candidacy in in May 2018. McLean said he did not think renting from the woman in Benton County fulfilled her residency requirements and said he forwarded the case to the Sherburne County Attorney’s Office for possible perjury charges.

In October 2020, the Sherburne County Attorney’s Office declined to file criminal charges due to the belief the office could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt but said Benton County authorities could pursue civil action.

Further investigation from the county showed Inman listed the Becker residence as her address in the county’s human resources and payroll systems. In December, Miller told Benton County Administrator Montgomery Headley his office will “step out of the matter” due to being conflicted over working closely with the county auditor-treasurer’s office. Miller advised the board to seek outside counsel.

Headley told the board Tuesday filing action in District Court could shed more light on the situation.

“I think that would be one purpose served,” he said. “Hopefully many of your questions would be answered through that process because individuals would be testifying under oath.”

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