WSJ recount editorial prompts non-meek response from Judge Cleary


A much-criticized Jan. 5 Wall Street Journal editorial that called the Minnesota State Canvassing Board “meek,” Secretary of State Mark Ritchie a man of partisan “machinations,” and Al Franken — who the board determined had won 225 more votes in the statewide recount than former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman — “tainted and undeserving,” has prompted a retort from one of its targets: State Canvassing Board member Edward Cleary.

Cleary, assistant chief judge at Ramsey County District Court, identifies himself as a WSJ subscriber of three decades’ standing who doesn’t always agree with the newspaper’s editorials but was particularly disappointed by this one, which he finds “long on partisan tone and short on accurate reporting.”

Read Cleary’s complete letter:

Dear Sirs:

As a subscriber of your newspaper for almost three decades, I don’t expect to always agree with your editorial viewpoint. Yet I am nevertheless very disappointed when I read an editorial long on partisan tone and short on accurate reporting.

As a member of the Minnesota State Canvassing Board, appointed pursuant to statute, I have attended all nine Board open meetings held the past seven weeks. I am knowledgeable about the proceedings as well as Minnesota’s election laws. Our members (two Supreme Court Justices, two District Court Judges, and Secretary of State Ritchie) came from all political backgrounds, openly expressed our opinions at the meetings, and can hardly be accurately described as “meek,” unless you mean “meek” by New York in-your-face standards. Your groundless attack on Secretary Ritchie reflects poorly on the author; Ritchie worked assiduously at avoiding partisanship in these proceedings.

As to the Board as a whole, all of our major votes were unanimous. We consistently followed the law in limiting our involvement to a non-adjudicative role, declining both candidate’s attempts to expand our mandate. Further, we painstakingly reviewed each challenged ballot, some more than once, to confirm that we were ruling in a consistent manner. One can only assume, based on the tone of the editorial, the numerous inaccuracies, and the over-the-top slam at Al Franken (”tainted and undeserving”?) that had Norm Coleman come out on top in this recount, the members of the Board would have been praised as “strong-willed, intelligent, and perceptive.” We won’t hold our breath waiting for that editorial to appear.

Edward J. Cleary

Assistant Chief Judge

Second Judicial District

Minnesota State Canvassing Board