|Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives|
from the 66B district
|Assumed office |
January 7, 2003
|Preceded by||redrawn district|
|Born||January 15, 1973|
|Political party||Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party|
|Residence||Saint Paul, Minnesota|
|Alma mater||Saint Louis University|
John Lesch (born January 15, 1973) is a Minnesota politician and member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. A member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL), he represents 66B, which includes portions of the city of Saint Paul in Ramsey County, which is in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. He is a prosecuting attorney for the city of Saint Paul.
- 1 Early life, education, and career
- 2 Political career
- 3 Trip to Iraq and other international travel
- 4 Campaign Funds Violation
- 5 Runs for other offices
- 6 Electoral history
- 7 Personal life
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Early life, education, and career
Lesch attended St. Louis University, graduating with degrees in philosophy and psychology, and later a law degree from Hamline University. Through high school and college, he spent three years at the seminary with the Redemptorists Order of Catholic Priests and Brothers.
Before running for the Minnesota House of Representatives, Lesch interned for former Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) Representative Andy Dawkins in 1997 and 1998. He worked on several campaigns and chaired the Senate District 66 DFL Party from 2000 to 2002. He was also a legislative aid to former St. Paul Council member and now Mayor Chris Coleman. When Representative Tom Osthoff announced his retirement in 2002, he decided to run for the House.
Minnesota House of Representatives
Lesch was first elected in 2002 and has been reelected every two years since.
Lesch has served on several committees including:
- Crime Victims Sub Committee 2007-2009
- Saint Paul Delegation 2007
- Crime Victims and Criminal Records Division 2009-11
- Chair of Civil Law 2013-15
In June 2007, Lesch proposed legislation to ban five breeds of dogs identified as especially aggressive by the Center for Disease Control: Rottweilers, pit bulls, Akitas, Chow Chows, and wolf hybrids. Mixes of these breeds were also banned under the bill. A study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2000 found that half of the 238 human deaths it identified as dog-related over the preceding 20-year period involved either pit bull-type dogs or Rottweilers. Opponents to Lesch's proposal argued that bite statistics are a consequence more of the popularity of certain breeds than of any predisposition to aggression. Opponents also identified owner behavior as the determining factor in canine aggression and pointed to the difficulty of identifying a dog of mixed breed without genetic testing.
Lesch's proposed legislation did not make it out of committee.
Dog/Cat Breeder Bill
This was passed in 2014 and creates a system of licensing and inspection for commercial breeders through the Board of Animal Health. The bill is intended to reduce the number of kitten and puppy mills in the state and mandate the proper treatment of animals.
Beagle Freedom Bill
On May 21, 2014, Minnesota became the first state to pass the "Beagle Freedom Bill". Included in the omnibus supplemental budget bill, authors Sen. Scott Dibble and Rep. John Lesch link taxpayer-funded laboratories and educational institutions that use dogs and cats for research with nonprofit animal rescues. The animals can be placed for adoption when they are no longer needed for research.
Trip to Iraq and other international travel
In February 2006, Lesch made a personal trip to Iraq at his own expense with the stated intention of learning as much as possible about the conflict in as short a time as possible. His plans to blog the trip soon leaked to the press and the trip became a several day news story. "While it is true that most folks would choose more stable settings for their vacation, I believe the Iraq war is the seminal conflict for our age," Lesch wrote in announcing his departure. "What happens there today will affect many generations of Americans and Iraqis..." Lesch received some praise, but mostly sharp criticism in the local press for making the trip. He said he'd wanted to see firsthand what conditions were like there, and that the trip was the most rewarding he'd ever taken. Despite the substantial criticism the trip had evoked in the press, Lesch said he had no regrets for making it.
In August 2007, Lesch participated in a Legislative Exchange sponsored through the State Department to study diplomacy among emerging leaders in the Philippines. During this trip, Lesch spent time in Manila and Cebu.
In September 2009 Lesch joined by state legislators from around the country went to New Zealand. This trip was sponsored through the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) and focused on Energy Development and Healthcare.
Campaign Funds Violation
On August 1, 2017, the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board ruled that Lesch and his campaign committee made a series of improper money transfers between 2010 and 2013 and failed to keep adequate records. The Board fined Lesch's campaign committee $5,000 and Lesch personally $15,000.
The amount of the fine is one of the larger — if not the largest — civil penalties levied against a lawmaker for campaign violations in the state, according to the board's executive director, Jeff Sigurdson. Although the board often levies penalties against lawmakers for incorrect bookkeeping or other matters, it rarely finds cases of officials using campaign money for their own benefit. The board concluded that Lesch transferred $11,000 in campaign contributions from his campaign account to his personal account at times when there otherwise would have been "insufficient funds". Lesch has repaid just over $2,000.
Lesch denied he did anything improper. "The board's conclusion that funds were converted to personal use is unfounded", Lesch said. "It remains based solely on the absence of receipts. I deny using any campaign funds for personal purposes."
Runs for other offices
United States Senate
In March 2011, newly elected Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton appointed District 66 State Senator Ellen Anderson as chair of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. After she announced her resignation from the Senate, effective March 21, 2011, a number of individuals announced that they would run for the seat, including former DFL State Rep. Mary Jo McGuire, DFL Attorney Steve Marchese, Republican Greg Copeland and Lesch. The primary election was scheduled for Tuesday, March 29, 2011 and the general election was scheduled for two weeks later, April 12, 2011.
Since the district leans heavily towards the DFL, the key election was the March 29, 2011 DFL primary. During the primary campaign, Rep. Alice Hausman announced that she was backing McGuire. Lesch subsequently lost the DFL primary to McGuire by 54% to 36%. McGuire went on to win in the general election.
Minnesota Attorney General
On April 4, 2017, Lesch announced that he would run for Minnesota Attorney General if the current Attorney General, Lori Swanson, decided to run for Governor. On September 15, 2017, six weeks after agreeing to pay $20,000 in fines to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board for misusing campaign funds, Lesch announced that he was withdrawing from the race. He said the allegations by the Campaign Finance Board had nothing to do with his withdrawal from the race, but that the time was not right for him personally, or politically, to run for higher office, especially since it was unknown whether Swanson would vie for reelection.
|DFL||Mary Jo McGuire||2,006||54.07|
|Republican||Gilbert A. Higuera||2,665||22.7|
|Republican||David R. Buehler||1,712||22.1|
In late December 2011, Lesch proposed to Melissa Reed, a lobbyist for the City of Minneapolis at the Minneapolis Holidazzle Parade, in the presence of Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and a crowd of others. They married in September 2012. Lesch has been married previously and has a child by that previous marriage.
Enlistment in National Guard
On October 8, 2009, it was reported that Lesch had joined the Minnesota National Guard as an infantry officer. As a practicing attorney, Lesch would normally join the military as a member of JAG or Judge Advocate General's Corps. He completed his Basic Training and Advanced Infantry Training at Fort Benning, Georgia, on February 12, 2010, graduating with a 90% rank in physical performance and rifle marksmanship. Lesch was commissioned at Ft. Benning, GA, on September 2, 2010, graduating 7th in a class of over 100. He maintains a rank of 2nd Lieutenant (O-1) and leads a platoon of light infantry soldiers with the 34th Infantry Division (Red Bulls).
While attending Officer Candidate School, Lesch commenced his re-election campaign for his seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives via Facebook and Twitter. Minnesota's Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board determined there are no restrictions on running for office while in the military, and no complaint was brought against Lesch. The military's own rules about political activity are complicated, however. Although neither the Army nor Minnesota National Guard has issued a formal statement regarding Lesch's campaign activities and no complaints have been made, unintentional violations of those rules can easily occur.
- John Lesch. "John Lesch for State Representative". Archived from the original on May 11, 2008. Retrieved 25 March 2009.
- Budig, T.W. (18 June 2007). "St. Paul legislator proposes outlawing ownership of 5 breeds of dogs deemed vicious". HometownSource.com. ECM Publishers. Retrieved 10 March 2011.
- Budig, T.W. (11 December 2007). "Number of dog bites in Minnesota has increased in recent years". HometownSource.com. ECM Publishers. Retrieved 10 March 2011.
- Budig, T.W. (11 December 2007). "Opposition shown to legislation proposed against 5 different breeds of dogs said to be dangerous". HometownSource.com. ECM Publishers. Retrieved 10 March 2011.
- Demko, Paul (31 January 2006). "John Lesch's Iraq adventure - Minneapolis / St. Paul News - The Blotter". Blogs.citypages.com. Retrieved March 2011. Check date values in:
- Tom Crann (1 March 2006). "Rep. Lesch unapologetic about his trip to Iraq". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved March 2011. Check date values in:
- Bob Collins (17 February 2006). "An alternative to watching figure skating". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved March 2011. Check date values in:
- St. Paul Rep. John Lesch fined $20,000 for using campaign cash for personal expenses - Rachel Stassen-Berger - Pioneer Press - August 1, 2017
- State Board Fines Lesch 20k for Campaign Missteps - MPR - Capital View
- Minnesota Legislator Faces $25,000 Fine Over Campaign Finance Violations - Erin Golden - Star Tribune - August 1, 2017
- "Lesch weighs bid for Coleman's Senate seat: DFL lawmaker elected in St. Paul in 2002". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. St. Paul, MN. 2007-02-23. Archived from the original (intro/reprint) on 2012-10-25. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
- Hausman backs McGuire in SD66 contest
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2011-03-31.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Primary Election Results
- St. Paul Rep. John Lesch to run for attorney general - Rachael E. Stassen-Berger - Pioneer Press - April 4, 2017
- St. Paul Rep. John Lesch drops out of race for attorney general - Pioneer Press - Rachael E. Stassen-Berger - September 15, 2017
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2011-03-31.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "2008 Election Results". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 25 March 2009.
- "2006 Election Results". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 25 March 2009.
- "2004 Election Results". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 25 March 2009.
- Minnesota Secretary of State. "Election Reporting". Archived from the original on 10 January 2009. Retrieved 25 March 2009.
- Holidazzle proposal joins state Rep., city lobbyist
- Hoppin, Jason (October 9, 2009) "Joining National Guard fulfills a dream for Lesch", Saint Paul Pioneer Press
- John Lesch at Minnesota Legislators Past & Present
- Rep. Lesch Web Page
- Minnesota Public Radio - Votetracker: John Lesch Voting Record
- Project Vote Smart - Rep. John Lesch Profile
- John Lesch Campaign Web Site for Attorney General
- John Lesch Campaign Contributions: 2008 2006 2004 2002
- No Power of Attorney for Frogtown Prosecutor - City Pages - Paul Demko - Dec 4 2002