Woman claims retaliation in A.G.’s complaint
Event organizer responds to state’s legal action
A Minot woman describes a N.D. Attorney General’s complaint against her as politically motivated in asking the district court to dismiss it.
The Attorney General’s Office filed a complaint in North Central District Court in Minot at the end of the July against Terpsehore Maras Lindeman, accusing her of failing to register as a professional fundraiser and using deceptive practices in advertising and fundraising. The state seeks to recover losses suffered by consumers, along with its costs and attorney fees, and asks for a civil penalty not to exceed $5,000 for each violation.
Lindeman submitted a response Monday that seeks dismissal on the grounds that no one has suffered damage or injury, which she says is a required element under law for bringing a complaint. She asks the court to hear oral arguments on her dismissal motion.
“The plaintiff by their own admittance began the investigation without a victim or complaint,” she wrote. “It seems the plaintiff doesn’t have a legal valid reason to explain WHY this investigation was initiated that would align with fiscal guidelines in North Dakota using Tax Payer funds.
“This is an abuse of our legal system and a clear example of the plaintiff weaponizing their office for personal gain, politically motivated wherein under North Dakota statute, is a crime in itself,” she added. “This meritless complaint is intended to be a vindictive action in impermissible retaliation for the defendant whistleblower actions regarding the Office of the North Dakota Attorney General dating back to the year 2010.”
Rather than enforcing the law, she said, the Attorney General’s action is an “attempt to damage and punish” her for her public interest in the office.
Parrell Grossman, director of the Consumer Protection Division in the Attorney General’s Office, said the office can bring action for illegal activities regardless of whether a victim has filed a complaint. In this case, Lindeman solicited money that never was used for the intended purposes, and the Attorney General seeks to ensure it does not continue to happen, he said. The Attorney General’s complaint asks for restitution for victims, who could choose to come forward at any time in the case, he said.
Grossman said Lindeman has made numerous open records requests of the office, but those requests were filed after she came under investigation last December in connection with “A Magic City Christmas,” which was being organized as a charitable event.
“Her claims about retaliation are false, unsupported and actually quite ridiculous. She’s attempting to obfuscate her illegal conduct by creating a false narrative,” Grossman said.
Lindeman said her whistleblower investigations against Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem are ongoing and involve concerns about the office’s handling of alleged human trafficking associated with an agency that brought foreign workers into western North Dakota and alleged drug trafficking in Wells County. She said her journalistic investigation includes the Attorney General’s sharing of data collected on North Dakota residents with the FBI under a memorandum that is more extensive than in other states and violates privacy.
In her defense, Lindeman denied allegations that she misused funds raised for apartment fire victims in Harvey, pointing out that funds remain in the online account because she was unable to obtain information from the city to disburse the money.
She also denied any misrepresentation or taking of donations in connection with her efforts to organize “A Magic City Christmas” in Minot. She attributed multiple spellings of her name to having fallen victim to identity theft in the past and said some false information has been disseminated publicly and to the Attorney General by individuals engaged in cyberbullying. She also stated the Attorney General’s Office violated privacy laws in accessing her bank account records.
She wrote the case raises concerns about the Attorney General “composing, falsifying and possibly committing crimes” as well as sharing private information about her and her family with non-law enforcement officials “for the purpose of embellishing their convoluted case.”