Rochester golf club pays damages after canceling conservative event

In April, the club stated that it canceled the event "because it generated controversy among Club members."

Rochester Golf and Country Club/Facebook

A Rochester country club reimbursed the Center of the American Experiment $5,300 last week to settle a lawsuit after abruptly canceling the group’s public safety event in March.

American Experiment filed a lawsuit in Olmsted County District Court accusing Rochester Golf and Country Club of a breach of contract after “leftist activists” pressured the venue with an online petition signed by 90 people. The center said it was only given a two-day notice of the cancellation.

The think tank said around 50 attendees were “left standing in the parking lot … because of the last-minute arbitrary cancellation.”

The center also sued Erin Nystrom, a club member who created the petition, for interference with a contract. On Thursday, American Experiment stated it “dismissed its claim against Erin Nystrom … since its damages were paid in full by Rochester Golf and Country Club.”

The event was rescheduled for April 26 and more than 200 people attended, according to the center. The panel discussion focused on current crime trends, an overview of the criminal justice system, the role of key officials in fighting crime, and proven strategies to reduce crime.

“I am pleased the Rochester Country Club fully reimbursed American Experiment for the costs of canceling the event,” said John Hinderaker, president of Center of the American Experiment. “I am more pleased that over 200 people in Rochester eventually got to experience a great event featuring the important work being done in Olmsted County by the Sheriff’s office and the Rochester Police Department.”

In March, Hinderaker condemned the club for not standing up for free speech.

“The people of Olmsted County were denied the chance to hear from a great panel of experts on a really important topic. But free speech will ultimately prevail. We will reschedule the event in Rochester at a different venue as soon as possible,” Hinderaker said.

According to a Star Tribune article written in April, the club stated that it canceled the event “because it generated controversy among Club members” and wasn’t picking sides in a political fight.

“The suggestion that I don’t have the right to petition — the hypocrisy is too much,” Nystrom told the Star Tribune back in April. “The irony is, when I use my freedom of speech to petition my country club and ask them to cancel the event I am met with a $50,000 lawsuit for perceived damages to CAE.”

Alpha News contacted Rochester Golf and Country Club’s general manager and did not immediately hear back.


Pafoua Yang

Pafoua Yang is a reporter for Alpha News. She has worked as an on-air reporter for stations across the Twin Cities.