St. Paul city attorney settles libel case against former DFL lawmaker

The St. Paul City Attorney has reached a settlement agreement with a former state legislator to end a libel lawsuit that began more than four years ago.

Former State Representative John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul, apologized for comments he made in 2018 about City Attorney Lyndsey Olson in a letter to Mayor Melvin Carter last month. Lesch said he learned that the complaints against Olson he referenced in a 2018 letter to Carter were investigated and dismissed.

“Furthermore, none of the matters investigated involved complaints of prosecutorial misconduct or the use of his position in an unfair or unethical manner,” Lesch wrote. “I am sorry for any embarrassment or discomfort my comments in the letter may have caused Ms. Olson.”

Olson filed a lawsuit against Lesch shortly after Carter nominated her in 2018, alleging Lesch launched a defamatory campaign to attack her credentials after she was selected for the role.

On Monday, a judge signed a stipulated order dismissing the case with prejudice.

Lisa Lamm Bachman, Olson’s attorney, confirmed that the case “has recently been settled on a confidential basis.” She declined to discuss the terms of the deal.

“Ms. Olson appreciates the closure of this matter resulting from the settlement agreement and the letter of apology,” Lamm Bachman said in an email.

Lesch and his attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

The former lawmaker spent years working to get the case dismissed, arguing that he was protected by the state Constitution’s guarantee of legislative immunity.

Judges at all three judicial levels denied the request, saying Lesch’s 2018 letter to Carter — which questioned the city’s hiring process and listed concerns about Olson — was not considered legislative activity. protected.

Lesch worked in the city attorney’s office for about 15 years and had previously applied for the top job. He also previously served in the Minnesota National Guard, where Olson was the first woman to serve as general counsel and deputy staff judge advocate.

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