Minnesota attorney general and Otto Bremer administrators at odds over open seat – InForum

ST. PAUL — In St. Paul, one of three seats remains open to head a $1 billion to $2 billion charitable foundation, and top state regulators face a three-way legal battle over how fill it.

In late April, a Ramsey County District Court judge removed Brian Lipschultz as trustee of the embattled Otto Bremer Trust, leaving a notable opening at the head of one of the state’s oldest philanthropies. Lipschultz, who has asked to be reinstated despite the insider trading charges, asked the court to suspend the judge’s 103-page legal order while his case progresses in the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison met in person with the two remaining executives of the Otto Bremer Trust on June 30, and court documents show all agreed that philanthropy needed three trustees, not two. In addition to issuing 945 charitable grants and loans last year, the St. Paul-based foundation maintains major assets such as St. Paul-based Bremer Bank, a major Midwest agricultural lender.

They also determined that the Minnesota Council on Foundations should play a role in selecting a third member, although they felt that the final selection should rest with the trustees themselves.

Beyond that, the legal documents show there was little else Ellison – who had once sought to remove all three trustees – and trustees Charlotte Johnson and Daniel Reardon could agree on. on inheritance. On July 8, the two administrators, Ellison’s office and Lipschultz each submitted competing proposals to Ramsey County District Court Judge Robert Awsumb.

While trustees supported the involvement of the Minnesota Council on Foundations, the Attorney General went further, recommending that the board play a lead role in developing and selecting a pool of applicants who would be evaluated through a ” defined and weighted system for weighing qualifications”. .”

Keith Ellison

The board would narrow the pool down to a core of finalists, and the trustees would then choose from those finalists. Ellison’s office requested that a successor be named next through a court motion, which the judge and attorney general would have the opportunity to review.

In a letter to Ellison’s office, Johnson and Reardon called the attorney general’s proposal a “non-starter.”

In a court submission filed July 8 by attorney Michael Ciresi, the two trustees noted that German philanthropist Otto Bremer had established a succession process in the foundation’s founding documents that would let his chosen successors control the process. The “Deed of Trust”, dated May 22, 1944, states “if the number (of) trustees is reduced to less than three persons… the surviving trustees shall increase the number to three persons by selecting and appointing the person or persons appropriate to act as trustee or trustees.

They said they would wait to make a final selection to replace Lipschultz until his case went through the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

As this process unfolds, they said they will speak with several organizations such as the Minnesota Council on Non-Profits and the Minnesota Council on Foundations to review their own group of likely candidates, people of “high personality, both in reputation and in fact. “with relevant investment and work experience” to hold a CEO position with CEO credentials.

“During the appeal, the trustees will conduct a selection process so that approval of the nomination can take place at the end of the appeal process,” the trustees said, in Ciresi’s filing. Otherwise, the candidate pool would likely be limited as many qualified candidates would be reluctant to leave their jobs and other boards for a position that could end up being short-lived.

Lipschultz, who is no longer represented by Ciresi and law firm Ciresi Conlin, previously named Wendy Rubin to replace her, but Awsumb has yet to confirm that choice, leaving the question of succession open and undecided at the time. of his appointment on April 29. removal order.

In his July 8 court filing, a lawyer for Lipschultz noted that he was excluded from conversations between Ellison’s office and the two remaining directors.

“Mr. Lipschultz, as a party, had hoped to coordinate court submissions with the other parties,” said Andrew Parker, an attorney with Minneapolis law firm Parker, Daniels, Kibort, who now represents Lipschultz. the Court of Appeals overturned the dismissal of Mr. Lipschultz, an unnecessary conflict would arise if a successor had been appointed in the meantime.”


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