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Tim Pawlenty’s flier is causing quite a stir. It’s definitely gotten under the skin of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

The flier “features several uniformed Minneapolis officers standing next to the candidate for governor in front of two squad cars.” Frey “said the mailer may have violated two city policies, calling it an unauthorized use of the Minneapolis police trademark and citing a prohibition on officers other than the union president or a designee appearing in a political advertisement.” That isn’t what’s bothering Frey the most, though.

According to the article, “Tensions are already high among the union, Frey and the City Council. Frey noted that the flier, among other claims, includes Pawlenty’s promise to crack down on so-called “sanctuary” policies meant to separate local police officers from enforcing federal immigration laws.”

“Our policy preventing MPD officers from asking about immigration status is not an advisory guideline that can be selectively ignored,” Frey said. “It is a city law that cannot be reversed by Bob Kroll or any political candidate. They don’t speak for the city. So let me make it clear: Our separation ordinance will be enforced no matter who occupies the office of governor or who is leading the police union.”

Mayor Frey apparently is under the impression that sanctuary city laws are constitutional. If he wants to pick that fight, I’m betting that a Pawlenty administration would be more than happy to have that fight.

Council Member Steve Fletcher said police appearing in the advertisement are “explicitly undermining that separation ordinance,” and questioned whether it would make people less likely to report crimes to police. “We want to preserve the intention that Minneapolis police are acting in accordance with city values,” Fletcher said. “And when they wear the uniform to assert a different set of values, they undermine public trust in their mission.”

The government can’t tell anyone that they can’t express their political opinions. There’s a strong case that can be made that this ordinance violates these officers’ First Amendment rights. Again, I’m betting that a Pawlenty administration would be happy to help with that fight.

In 2006, then-Attorney General Mike Hatch got fined for using official OAG stationery in inviting people to a Hatch for Governor fundraiser. In that case, the candidate used government resources to further his campaign. In this instance, the candidate merely is showing that “Tim Pawlenty is endorsed by the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis.”

Politically speaking, this is a win-win situation for Pawlenty. It’s a win in the sense that this police officer federation endorsed him. It’s a win because Mayor Frey’s complaint elevates the profile of that flier. Here’s the flier in question:

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