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Complaint targets Senate campaign e-mail

June 14, 2001

ST. PAUL, Minn.--The wife of former Sen. Rod Grams was charged Thursday with a misdemeanor for allegedly sending e-mails in the 2000 campaign that were meant to discredit a Democratic Senate hopeful.

Christine Gunhus was ordered to appear in court Friday on a charge of preparing or disseminating campaign material without a proper disclosure of the source. The charge carries a possible 90-day jail sentence and a fine ranging from $210 to $700.

The e-mails were sent under the fictitious name "Katie Stevens." Investigators concluded that an e-mail account used to send them was accessed several times via a telephone line registered to Gunhus. When such messages come from a campaign, election laws require the source be identified.

Bryan Lindberg, an assistant Anoka County prosecutor, said the filing of charges was delayed because investigators had to conduct a complicated computer analysis.

Gunhus, 46, is a onetime top aide to Grams who married him shortly after the Republican senator lost his bid for re-election last year. She declined to comment on the charge, referring questions to her attorney, Doug Kelley.

"Chris will plead no contest to these charges (Friday) morning," Kelley said, meaning Gunhus maintains her innocence but recognizes the state has a strong case.

Kelley said Gunhus faces no jail time in a deal already negotiated with county prosecutors, but a fine will be left up to the court.

Mike Ciresi, a trial lawyer who made an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic Senate nomination last year, filed the complaint over a series of e-mails sent to Democratic activists from May to July 2000.

The messages accused him of being too moderate and carrying a client list of corporate polluters and anti-union companies.

Ciresi failed to land an endorsement at the state party convention in June 2000 and then lost the primary election in September to Mark Dayton, a millionaire department store heir. Dayton went on to defeat Grams in the general election.

By The Associated Press, Special to CNET Copyright © 2001 Associated Press


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