State GOP served with eviction papers for its St. Paul office space
The debt-plagued Republican Party of Minnesota is getting kicked out of its party headquarters near the state Capitol.
Massachusetts-based Hub Properties Trust filed paperwork in Ramsey County on Wednesday to evict the state GOP for failing to pay more than $96,000 in rent over the last year.
“Tenant remains in default under the lease by failing to pay in full when due, rent from April 2011 through the present,” the court papers read. “As of April 1, 2012, the tenant owes landlord a total of $111,192.14.” (A security deposit on the property and several partial payments since June 2011 have reduced the total outstanding debt to about $96,000.)
The eviction action follows a series of revelations last winter regarding debts accrued by the party during the reign of former RPM Chairman Tony Sutton. In December, an internal review of finances revealed that the party owes $1.23 million to creditors, plus more than $700,000 in legal fees accrued during the 2010 gubernatorial recount, and is facing possible fines from the Federal Elections Commission for undisclosed debts. The party is also currently being investigated by the state campaign finance board.
The 10-year lease for the office space located at 525 Park St. in St. Paul — first signed in 2003 — puts the party on the hook for $6,881 a month for the 7,340 square foot space, according to records filed in Ramsey County District Court. But rent has inflated over the years, according to a PIM interview with former Chair Sutton, who resigned late last year amid rumors of ballooning debt.
In an internal party memo leaked to Politico in April, RPM Chairman Pat Shortridge, who was elected to succeed Sutton in December, revealed that the party hadn’t paid its rent for at least the first two months of the year.
“Consequently, please note that we are not paying our office lease rent payment (but have been in discussions with our landlord) and have not yet negotiated long-term payment schedules and/or negotiated settlements relating to most of the vendors,” Shortridge wrote in the memo.
Shortridge notified activists of the eviction notice in an email blast on Thursday, but claimed the party will not be put out of its space imminently.
“We have a long and very expensive lease which still has twenty-one (21) months to run. As you know, we have more space than we need and our monthly lease cost is in excess of current, comparable market lease rates. When I was elected on December 31, 2011, the rent had not been paid since August 2011 and as part of our continuing financial issues and our effort to re-negotiate the lease, no lease payments have been made in 2012 to date,” he wrote.
“Rather than continue discussions with us, the landlord chose to exercise its rights and filed a notice of eviction in Ramsey County court. We’re not going to be evicted, and at the same time, are continuing to negotiate on the back payments as well as on a lease that better fits both our space needs and our budget. While this is a situation none of us wants, it’s part of the rebuilding process. No one ever said it would be simple or easy or without bumps along the way. But I wanted you to hear about it from me rather than from any other source.”
An eviction hearing is scheduled for May 1 in Ramsey County Housing Conciliation court. Check back at PIM for updates.