A second criminal case against former restaurant owner Lisa Hanson was dismissed Friday just a few days after her attorney moved to subpoena several Walz administration officials, court records show.
Hanson spent 60 days in jail and faced civil fines and litigation for temporarily opening her restaurant, which is now closed, in defiance of Gov. Tim Walz’s COVID-19 shutdown orders. She was sent to jail the same week the state dropped charges against a man who toppled and destroyed a historic statue of Christopher Columbus on the Capitol grounds. Hanson missed Christmas with her family, the birth of her 10th grandchild, and her wedding anniversary while in jail.
“I served 60 days for serving a cup of coffee,” Hanson told Alpha News in a phone call last week.
She opened her restaurant for in-person service in December 2020 and January 2021 in violation of the governor’s executive orders. She faced two sets of charges in connection to the violations, which she believes was done to cause her more damage.
Hanson was found guilty of six misdemeanor counts after a jury trial in December 2021. She was sentenced to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, much more than what prosecutors asked for.
Judge Joseph Bueltel chastised Hanson at the conclusion of the trial and said he wanted to make an example out of her.
She ended up serving 60 days in jail because offenders are only required to serve two-thirds of their sentence behind bars in Minnesota. Upon her release, she launched an unsuccessful bid for the Minnesota Senate. She told Alpha News her days in politics aren’t over.
“Walz took my livelihood away from me,” she said, noting that the city declined to renew the lease for her restaurant, The Interchange.
But her troubles didn’t end there. Hanson was scheduled to go to trial Dec. 12 on the second set of charges, two counts of violating an emergency powers order and one count of maintaining a public nuisance.
This time around, Hanson hired an attorney, Richard Dahl, who issued subpoenas for several high-ranking Walz officials who were at the center of the state’s response to COVID-19, including Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and the governor’s chief of staff, Chris Schmitter.
Three days later, Interim Albert Lea City Attorney Michelle King dismissed the charges, saying it would be an ineffective use of resources and wouldn’t result in additional sanctions.
“We are in such a tumultuous time like we have never been in our country before,” Hanson said. “I encourage people to pray. Vote your values. Vote for freedom, for your rights, for your liberties.”