NEW ULM - Half a year after the November gubernatorial recount, Brown County is still awaiting payment from the Republican Party of Minnesota.
A total of $1,441 is still owed to Brown County, which covers the cost of employee time to hand count the ballots and the materials sent to the Republicans.
Brown County Auditor-Treasurer Marlin Helget said he was astonished by how long it has taken the county to receive its money.
"I have never heard of something like this happening before in all my time here," said Helget.
He said that the county typically doesn't send information before obtaining payment. However, he said that during the recount, a lawyer representing the Minnesota Republicans sent a strongly worded letter threatening legal action if the requested information wasn't received quickly.
"They were pretty nasty and harsh. We just sent the stuff because we concerned about the legal risk," said Helget, "They were demanding everything yesterday. But, they turned around and didn't pay."
Helget said Brown County has repeatedly sent requests for payments to the Republicans since then, but have received no response.
"They act like they've never gotten our bill," said Helget.
He said that if Brown County does not receive payment in the next two weeks, the county will bring legal action against the Republican Party of Minnesota. He added that he will likely bring it to the Brown County Board before acting.
Republican Party of Minnesota Chairperson Tony Sutton said the Party is working diligently to pay off all money owed to all Minnesota counties.
"I really wish we could have gotten it paid sooner, but we're paying it off as we can," said Sutton, "The Republican Party of Minnesota has been around since 1858. We will get this taken care of."
Sutton said that the repayment of select counties is being done in groups and that Brown County is in the next group. He said the repayment of that group will likely occur in the next few weeks.
Brown County's payment concern has been shared by a large number of other Minnesota counties. During the recount, Republicans sent similar demands to all 87 Minnesota counties.
In the area, Nicollet County sent a letter threatening to turn over the debt to the county attorney's office last April. On March 25, the Party paid the money owed in full.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)