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Social media post on CWC sheriff candidate sparks controversy

Crow Wing County Sheriff Deputy Pat Pickar

A Facebook post showing a beer can in an all-terrain vehicle driven in a Fourth of July parade for the Pat Pickar for Crow Wing County Sheriff campaign received a lot of social media attention.

Pickar, a sheriff's deputy with the county, is one of three candidates vying to be the next Crow Wing County sheriff. Sheriff Todd Dahl last year announced he will not run for another four-year term and will retire at the end of this year.

Pickar is running against Scott Goddard, a captain with the sheriff's office, and Pequot Lakes Police Chief and former Sheriff Eric Klang. The three will face off in the Aug. 14 primary before the Nov. 6 general election.

At 7:26 p.m. Wednesday, July 4, Brock Ruckdaschel of Brainerd, posted: "Pickar is doing a great job right his float has someone drinking and driving." The post included an edited photo with a circle drawn around a can of beer in the beverage holder of the ATV, part of Pickar's campaign team in a local parade. As of Friday afternoon, the post was shared 278 times with 108 comments, with people discussing the laws for open bottle and drinking and driving and some stating for whom they would vote.

According to Minnesota law, possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in a vehicle on a street is a misdemeanor crime.

Derek Owen, Pickar's campaign manager, replied on the post the same night it was published. "I want to thank you for pointing this out. I had a discussion with the operator of the vehicle who informed me that that can was empty and had not been disposed of before the parade started," Owen wrote. "This is a personal vehicle borrowed for the parade and I should have checked it before we started. I will ensure this does not happen in the future. Thanks to everyone for their support and we hope you had a great 4th."

Pickar also released a statement Friday.

"While I was not directly involved and did not know this was going on during the parade, I acknowledge it happened, apologize and take responsibility that this happened during my campaign. I have looked into the issue, it was an empty can that was not disposed of properly and I have taken steps to ensure it will not happen again. While I am deeply disappointed in this situation, I do not intend to let it slow down our campaign efforts to serve our community."