Minneapolis mayor sued by police lieutenant whose promotion she blocked

Hodges says the suit is baseless and only about influencing the election.
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Lt. John Delmonico and Mayor Betsy Hodges.

With election night just weeks away, an old feud is coming back to haunt Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges. 

It's in the form of a lawsuit, filed Friday in Hennepin County by Minneapolis police Lt. John Delmonico. He says Hodges made defamatory and libelous statements about him – by calling him untrustworthy and racist.

The two have a long history, but Delmonico is specifically talking about the time Hodges blocked his promotion to head of the police department's 4th Precinct, publicly overruling the police chief's decision.

As the suit points out, local media outlets obtained texts between Hodges and then-chief Janeé Harteau, where the mayor explained her reasoning for blocking Delmonico's promotion at the time. 

And what's in that explanation is why Hodges is being sued. In the texts, Hodges said "we can't trust John," and that people "remember lots of racist stuff he has done."

The lawsuit accuses her of saying these things "intentionally or recklessly" and with "malice, hatred, and ill-will toward Delmonico and with a desire to injure him."

And because the texts went public, the police lieutenant suffered "damage to his career, shame, embarrassment, mortification, and mental anguish," the suit says.

Delmonico is seeking damages "in excess of $50,000."

This is the second suit filed against her in the last two months, that one over her budget release timeline. However, the judge sided with Hodges and it got tossed out.

Hodges' response to Delmonico's lawsuit

The mayor took to Twitter Friday afternoon, calling this a "patently baseless lawsuit that is obviously intended to influence the election."

She also defended her move to cancel Delmonico's promotion, painting it as an example of the "tough decisions" she has to make as mayor.

Background

As you have probably already gathered, this is a really complex story. 

Hodges and Delmonico have a rivalry stretching all the way back to when Hodges was still on the City Council.

The lawsuit notes that the two sparred even then, over pension benefits for cops (Delmonico was head of the police union at the time).

And, later, during the infamous #Pointergate controversy, Delmonico was one of the mayor's most vocal critics – something the suit also mentions.

It's also worth nothing that Delmonico's blocked promotion was the beginning of a public rift between the mayor and Chief Harteau, with the latter eventually resigning at Hodges' request. 

To sum up, the mayor has had a fraught relationship with her police force. Whether this does indeed "influence the election" will be decided on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

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