Two Harbors City Council Speaks About Mayor’s Tourism Controversy

Two Harbors City Council Speaks About Mayor's Tourism Controversy
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 11:23 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 21, 2022 at 11:30 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (CBS 3 Duluth) - Mayor Chris Swanson wants to make Two Harbors a tourist destination and his plans include passenger submarine travel and an underwater hotel.

To make it happen, he’s been in contact with a possible investor, a reclusive billionaire who goes by the name Mr. O.

According to Bret Rawson, an attorney for Mr. O, the billionaire is consulting personally with the mayor but is not working with any city organization.

“We want to assure you that his involvement is exactly what it is purported to be and that is as a business consultant personally to the mayor,” said Bret Rawson, Attorney for Mr. O.

Rawson said the mayor hired Mr. O with his own money.

“There has been no money from the city requested nor is it desired by my client. He’s providing some advice to a mayor who’s interested in driving economic development to that region,” said Rawson.

Members of the city council spoke out Friday, making sure that distinction is clear.

“Be assured that the city of Two Harbors will not engage in a project with an anonymous individual,” said Robin Glaser, Two Harbors City Council Vice President.

Although they spoke out on Friday, most members of the council didn’t speak during or after the meeting Thursday night.

“It was a difficult situation for all of us. I think nobody wants to make any statements at this point,” said Glaser.

The meeting was focused on the mayor’s efforts to attract investors, including the use of his official Twitter account.

Mayor Swanson made the motion to have Minnesota’s Attorney General decide if he’s broken any rules.

The mayor is confident in the outcome.

“I know what the law is, and I know what our conflict of interest policy is, and I’ve studied a lot on what mayors can communicate across Twitter. So I understand the rules and I know that I haven’t broken any rules,” said Swanson.

According to Mayor Swanson, Mr. O could possibly invest $400 million in future tourism projects in the Two Harbors area.

Both Mr. O’s attorney and the City Council Vice President said Mr. O is not working with any city organization.

Mr. O’s attorney also said his client did remotely attend a meeting of the Two Harbors Economic Development Association, but it was as a consultant, paid for personally by Mayor Swanson.

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