The Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor has published its special review regarding the Minnesota Department of Commerce: Investigation of Auto Glass Insurance Processing by Safelite Solutions LLC.
More than a year ago, in March 2017, Minnesota lawmakers Rep. Kelly Fenton, (R-Woodbury) and Rep. Tony Albright, (R-Prior Lake) wrote a letter to Governor Mark Dayton that expressed their disapproval of Minnesota Department of Commerce (DOC) Commissioner Michael Rothman and his decision that they said violated Safelite’s First Amendment rights.
The Minnesota DOC had asserted that Safelite was being deceptive by using the words “may be” in reference to possible balance-billing customers for using out-of-network vendors. In the letter sent February 27, the lawmakers rail against Rothman, who they say handled the case unfairly and engaged in inappropriate dealings with Safelite competitors in order to benefit them. The letter states that the judge’s order to conduct the investigation of the company was a blatant violation of its rights with the sole purpose of providing confidential investigation information to Safelite competitors for their benefit.
The letter also outlined the DOC’s alleged abuse of power, saying the department believed it had the right to endlessly drag the trial out and continually investigate Safelite without proper cause, and its utter disregard for limits on the department’s reach. The letter concludes by stating that the department does not work within the confines of the law and does not have the taxpayer’s interest at heart.
Special Report Issued April 2017
This all led to Rep. Fenton asking the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) to examine whether a Department of Commerce investigator complied with the Government Data Practices Act when he disclosed information about the ongoing Safelite investigation to a representative of the repair shops that brought the allegations against Safelite.
“We concluded that the investigator did not comply with the relevant provision in the Data Practices Act, but we found no harm to individuals that resulted from his action,” state James Nobles, legislative auditor, in a letter authored in the special report. “Rather, his action added to a perception that the Department of Commerce did not conduct its Safelite investigation objectively or in strict compliance with state law.” (Click here for the full report.)