MN Supreme Court candidate ‘debate’ canceled; Was it ever really scheduled?

Michelle MacDonald won’t be participating in a debate against incumbent Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Natalie Hudson, as the organizers of the debate quietly announced the event was canceled in tweet on Sunday morning.

MacDonald, who serves as Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s family court attorney, claimed last week that she would be appearing against Hudson “head to head in a televised debate” hosting by the Minnesota Voters Alliance this Wednesday evening.

Less than an hour after MacDonald announced she would be debating Hudson, a representative of the Minnesota Voters Alliance said Hudson had not yet been invited to participate in the debate.

Andy Cilek, Executive Director of the Minnesota Voters Alliance said MacDonald’s email was not accurate as Hudson would be formally invited to participate in the debate the following day.

But on Sunday, Cilek announced in an early morning tweet that the debate was “canceled due to scheduling conflicts. It will not be re-scheduled.”

The Minnesota Voter Alliance is organized as 501 (c)(4) and is separate from MacDonald’s campaign, but many of the organization’s members are supportive of MacDonald’s candidacy for the Minnesota Supreme Court.

In 2014, MacDonald was the Republican endorsed candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court against Justice David Lillehaug. MacDonald lost to Lillehaug by just 7 points — 53 percent to 46 percent in November 2014.

Earlier this year MacDonald filed to run again for the Minnesota Supreme Court, but was not endorsed by the Republican Party of Minnesota for the Minnesota Supreme Court after Republicans decided not to endorse judicial candidates.

Questions remain unanswered if the debate as described by MacDonald was actually scheduled.

Legal trouble ahead for MacDonald 

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, Dede Evavold. Picture source: Dakota County Sheriff’s Office

An attorney complaint was filed against MacDonald in August related to her legal representation of Grazzini-Rucki in family court.

MacDonald was labeled in April 2015 as a “person of interest” by the Lakeville Police Department in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki.  MacDonald refused to cooperate with the Lakeville Police Department’s investigation into her possible involvement in the disappearance of the sisters  – even after public statements from her that she would cooperate in the investigation.

Her criminal defense attorney, Stephen Grigsby, said in 2015 that he would advise MacDonald to not speak with the Lakeville Police Department.

Grazzini-Rucki was found guilty in July on six counts of deprivation of parental rights for her role in the disappearance of her daughters. MacDonald’s campaign manager in 2014, DeDe Evavold, was also found guilty last month for her involvement in the disappearance of the Rucki sisters.

The girls’ father, David Rucki was awarded full custody of all five of his children in November 2013, while two of his daughters remained missing.

On November 18, 2015 – 944 days after they disappeared – the girls were found living on a ranch in northern Minnesota by law enforcement, headed by the Lakeville Police Department. Rucki was reunited with his daughters days after they were found and they live with him at the family’s home in Lakeville.

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