Jon Grunseth

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Jon Grunseth
Independent-Republican candidate for
Governor of Minnesota
Election date
Opponent(s) Rudy Perpich (DFL)
Arne Carlson (Write-In/I-R)
Incumbent Rudy Perpich
Personal details
Born November 11, 1945 (1945-11-11) (age 71)
Political party Independent-Republican
Spouse(s) Vicki (to 1998)
Children 5
Occupation Businessman

Jon Rieder Grunseth (born November 11, 1945)[1] is a Minnesota businessman and politician. He was the 1990 Independent-Republican nominee for Governor of Minnesota. Grunseth won his party's endorsement and its primary election, but was forced to quit the race nine days before election day in the wake of a scandal.[2] Until the 1990 governor's race, Grunseth had been the Vice President of Public Affairs at Ecolab, and chair of the Chemical Specialties Manufacturers Association. After the scandal, he lost his job at Ecolab, and he now lives and runs a cherry-growing operation in Australia.

1974 congressional candidacy[edit]

In 1974, Grunseth was the endorsed candidate of the Republican Party for the U.S. House of Representatives for the Minnesota's 6th congressional district. He lost by a margin of 55 to 45 percent to DFL candidate Richard Nolan, who had lost to the Republican incumbent in 1972. (Nolan was re-elected twice and in 2012 was elected to the House from Minnesota's 8th congressional district.)

1990 gubernatorial candidacy[edit]

Grunseth earned the Independent-Republican Party's gubernatorial nomination endorsement at its state convention, defeating moderate State Auditor Arne Carlson. He defeated Carlson again in the primary to become the main opposition to two-term incumbent Governor Rudy Perpich.[3]

On October 14, 1990, public allegations of sexual misconduct were made against Grunseth. On July 4, 1981, Grunseth had held a pool party at his home. It was alleged that after his daughter entered the pool naked, Grunseth joined her, also naked, and that when two of his daughter's friends, Elizabeth Mulay, 12, and Liane Nelson, 13, refused to swim naked, Grunseth attempted to tear off their swimsuits.

Nine years later, Mulay and Nelson, then adults, levied accusations against Grunseth, which two other women, Lisa Hare and Heather Charles, corroborated.[4] Grunseth denied the allegations, but they severely damaged his candidacy. Sixteen party attendees submitted affidavits that they had witnessed no nude swimming or underage drinking, but seven of those had left before the nude swimming began or weren't sure when they left the party.[5] Two members of a rock band that performed at the party remembered seeing men and teenaged girls swimming naked.[6] Carlson soon decided to reenter the gubernatorial race as a write-in candidate.[7]

The situation divided the Independent-Republican Party. Some defended Grunseth and charged that the accusations were politically motivated, while others wanted Grunseth replaced with 1986 gubernatorial candidate Cal Ludeman. U.S. Senator Rudy Boschwitz, who was waging his own campaign for reelection, led a moderate faction that wanted Grunseth replaced by Carlson. Boschwitz's stance alienated some of his supporters and was cited as a factor in his defeat.

In reply, Grunseth claimed that he had engaged in adultery and other bad behavior in the past, but that he had changed and been faithful to his wife, the former Vicki Tigwell, since their 1984 marriage.[8] A former mistress of Grunseth's, Tamara Jacobsen Taylor, 32, then came forward claiming that she had engaged in sexual relations with Grunseth during his professional visits to the nation's capital (as a lobbyist for Ecolab) as recently as July 1989.[9] Facing certain defeat, Grunseth withdrew from the race on October 28.[10][7] Carlson, the runner-up in the primary, replaced him on the ballot and defeated Perpich.[11]

Post-political career[edit]

After the election, Grunseth was fired by Ecolab. In 1993, he sued the Marriott hotel chain for $4 million, claiming that they divulged records to the Star Tribune, from the night he stayed at the hotel in July 1989, the night Taylor alleged was the last she spent with Grunseth. The amount of the lawsuit was based on what Grunseth would have earned had he not been fired from Ecolab.[12][13] The court ruled against him, saying the receipt did not contain "private facts", simply showing that he booked a room in the hotel rather than demonstrating whether he was having an affair.[14]

Grunseth now lives in Barnes Bay, Bruny Island, Tasmania, Australia, where he purchased property in 1997 and founded Lennonville Orchards, a large cherry-growing operation.[15]


  1. ^ "Grunseth, Jon". OurCampaigns. February 18, 2008. 
  2. ^ "Minn. nominee quits gov's race". USA Today. October 29, 1990. Archived from the original on March 30, 2009. 
  3. ^ Gilbert, Curtis (November 5, 2010). "Recent race tame compared to 1990 gubernatorial contest". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved August 11, 2011. 
  4. ^ Short, Allen; McEnroe, Paul; Hage, Dave (October 29, 1990). "Taylor says Grunseth tried to deceive voters". Star Tribune. p. 11A. 
  5. ^ Ison, Chris (October 18, 1990). "Grunseth stands firm; IR leaders talk". Star Tribune. p. 1A. 
  6. ^ Short, Allen (October 15, 1990). "Allegations rock governor's race; 2 women claim improper behavior by Grunseth at '81 party; he denies it". Star Tribune. p. 1A. 
  7. ^ a b Gilbert, Curtis (November 5, 2010). "20 years ago: A three-week political roller coaster". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved October 28, 2014. 
  8. ^ Short, Allen; McEnroe, Paul (October 28, 1990). "When did Grunseth 'wild years' end?". Star Tribune. p. 1A. 
  9. ^ Short, Allen; McEnroe, Paul; Hage, Dave (October 29, 1990). "Taylor says Grunseth tried to deceive voters". Star Tribune. p. 11A. 
  10. ^ "Republican Quits Minnesota Governor's Race". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. October 29, 1990. 
  11. ^ "Rough start, better finish". Star Tribune. August 18, 1994. p. 18A. 
  12. ^ Pierson, Curt (May 23, 1993). "A question of private business; a matter of public responsibility". The Gainesville Sun. p. 3G. 
  13. ^ Ison, Chris (May 14, 1993). "Grunseth suit says hotel violated privacy". Star Tribune. p. 1B. 
  14. ^ Siegel, Paul (2014). Communication Law in America (4th ed.). Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 201–202. ISBN 1442226234. 
  15. ^ van Berkel, Lody (January 28, 2008). "Many Australian cherry growers caught by extreme heat". Fresh Plaza. 
Party political offices
Preceded by
Cal Ludeman
Republican nominee for Governor of Minnesota
September–October 1990
Succeeded by
Arne Carlson
Endorsed Gubernatorial Candidate,
Minnesota Republican Party State Convention

Succeeded by
Allen Quist