There are residency questions surrounding Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. It appears he’s been living in a different county for months, but a spokesperson for his office said he’s maintained a Hennepin County address that entire time.
According to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office, county attorneys must live in the counties they serve during their entire length of service.
The Minnesota County Attorneys Association also confirmed to Alpha News that a county attorney is required to live in the county where they serve.
In September, Freeman, 73, announced he would not seek re-election in 2022.
Alpha News was told by sources that Freeman has been living at a residence in Ramsey County for months.
When reporter Liz Collin went to the door, his wife answered and said Freeman was not there.
Collin asked why he doesn’t live in Hennepin County anymore.
“He does live in Hennepin County. He’s got an apartment and a lease in his name,” his wife said.
“He doesn’t live here?” Collin replied.
“No, he does not,” she said.
“I’m his wife. He sometimes comes on weekends,” she added.
However, Alpha News has observed Freeman at the home during several weekdays and also spotted his car in the garage on several occasions.
“He’s got an address and a lease in Hennepin County,” his wife went on to say. She told us that she’d send us the information.
However, when Alpha News reached out for comment from Freeman’s media coordinator, she would not confirm an address and sent the following statement:
“Mr. Freeman has maintained his legal residency in Hennepin County since 1971, when he returned to Minnesota after college and serving in the military. Because of serious damage to his private prior home in Minneapolis by demonstrators and physical threats, he and his family entered the Secretary of State’s Safe at Home program. Dissemination of his address is a crime, and treated as a misdemeanor.”
The Safe at Home program allows people who fear for their safety to keep a confidential address in Minnesota. According to its website, the participants are often survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
A representative from the Safe at Home program said anyone who fears for their safety is eligible, including public officials. As of December 2021, there were 3,828 people enrolled.
Freeman’s home in south Minneapolis became a frequent target for protesters in the wake of George Floyd’s death in May 2020. He sold the property in December 2020. Online records show it sold for less than the Freemans paid for it in 2007.
On Twitter, there were pictures of his yard littered with streamers and a broken basement window.
Protesters smash basement window of Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman's house, spread toilet paper over his prroperty. pic.twitter.com/l9FXjRogsC
— Chris Serres (@ChrisSerres) May 30, 2020
Dave Schultz is a political science professor at Hamline University. He told Alpha News that this move does raise questions.
“You could argue if you’re not living with your constituents, are you fully bearing the cost of the decisions you make?” Schultz said.
Hennepin County is home to Minneapolis, which continues to grapple with a historic increase in crime.
Schultz believes Freeman is playing fast and loose with the rules, pointing to the difference between a residency and a domicile.
“Your domicile would be your legal address. Your residence, your physical, personal location,” he said.
Schultz said it’s a move more common among members of Congress, who often keep addresses in Minnesota but live in the D.C. area.
Freeman began as county attorney in 1991, serving until 1999. He was elected again in 2006 after then-county attorney Amy Klobuchar ran for U.S. Senate.
In that same press release announcing his plans for retirement, Freeman said he’s proud of the work his office has done on officer-involved killings of civilians.
“We were in the forefront of the nation in moving away from grand juries in making those decisions,” the statement said.
He said one of the toughest decisions he made was not criminally charging the two Minneapolis police officers who killed Jamar Clark.
“The police conduct was wrong and is not acceptable, but it was not criminal,” he said.
In 2017, Freeman issued a public apology after he accused BCA agents of not doing their jobs when investigating the death of Justine Damond, who was shot by Minneapolis officer Mohamed Noor.
Months later, he publicly acknowledged he had a problem with alcohol and entered a treatment program.
In his September statement, Freeman said he is proud of the job that his office has done and pledged his “best efforts” to continue serving Hennepin County in the remaining months.
Alpha News has also learned that Freeman will be announcing his charging decision in the Amir Locke case as early as this week.