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Cottage Grove cop involved in GOP DWI dustup

COTTAGE GROVE - A Cottage Grove police officer has become part of a dustup between Republican legislators vying for their party's gubernatorial nomination, penning a letter that admonishes Rep. Tom Emmer's efforts last year to alter Minnesota's DWI laws.

Sgt. Randy McAlister of the Cottage Grove Police Department wrote a letter that calls out a bill authored by Emmer that would have hidden drunken driving convictions from the public after a period of time and would have prohibited the administrative revocation of the driver's license pending a court appearance.

The campaign of Rep. Marty Seifert, Emmer's rival for the GOP nod, sent the letter out last weekend to GOP delegates who will determine the party's nomination on Friday. Last week, Seifert's campaign sent a letter to delegates raising questions about DWI convictions in Emmer's past.

McAlister said Monday he did not write the letter intending it to be used as campaign material.

"I wasn't responding to the whole Emmer kerfluffle," he said. Rather, the officer said, he wrote the letter to Seifert earlier this year urging him to oppose measures that McAlister said would put more drunk drivers on the state's roads.

Seifert's campaign recently called him to ask permission to use the letter publicly, McAlister said.

"I could care less about Emmer's DWI," he said. "A lot of people have DWI's 20, 30 years back."

McAlister said his concern isn't political; it's about public safety and stopping the state Legislature from, in his view, weakening the state's DWI laws. McAlister said he didn't include his affiliation to the Cottage Grove Police Department in the original letter. But, when Seifert's campaign began sending the letter out in advance of Friday's nomination battle McAlister's position as a Cottage Grove officer was included.