Following allegations by former East Bethel mayor Richard Lawrence that Councilmember Tom Ronning is a convicted felon and as such may not be eligible to hold public office, Ronning retained an attorney who has confirmed that Ronning does have the right to hold an elected seat.
Ronning read a letter on the matter from his attorney, Michael H. Daub of St. Louis Park, during the Feb. 5 East Bethel City Council meeting. Before reading the letter, Ronning said Lawrence’s comments on Jan. 22 had been accusatory, harmful, and damaging, and “on his behalf, that’s uncharacteristic of the Richard I know.”
The letter acknowledged that Ronning had been convicted of carrying a concealed weapon in Oakland County, Mich., in March of 1992. Ronning had pleaded guilty to the charge and was ordered to pay around $300 in court costs and to serve one year of probation.
Ronning explained that he had been in possession of a hunting knife in a motor vehicle when he was pulled over for a traffic stop. The type and size of the knife contributed to the violation of Michigan state law.
Daub’s letter states that a Michigan conviction does not prohibit a person from holding public office in Minnesota, and that Ronning has been free and clear to do so since Feb. 8, 1993, when he was discharged from probation and all of his civil rights were restored.
Ronning said he had felt he owed an explanation after those public accusations.