Rebecca Otto

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Rebecca Otto
Rebecca Otto.jpg
18th Auditor of Minnesota
Assumed office
January 2, 2007
Governor Tim Pawlenty
Mark Dayton
Preceded by Patricia Anderson
Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives
from the 52B district
In office
January 2003 – January 2005
Preceded by Mark Holsten
Succeeded by Matt Dean
Personal details
Born (1963-07-09) July 9, 1963 (age 54)
Evanston, Illinois, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Shawn Otto
Education Macalester College (BS)
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (MEd)

Rebecca Otto (born July 9, 1963) is the State Auditor of the U.S. state of Minnesota and a candidate in the 2018 election for Governor of Minnesota. She is affiliated with the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL). She also served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 2003 to 2005 and on the Forest Lake School Board. Before entering politics, she was a science teacher and previous to that a business owner. She lives on a farm near Marine on St. Croix with her husband, Shawn Lawrence Otto, a screen play writer, novelist and science advocate. She is the third woman to serve as State Auditor, the first woman Democrat to be elected to the post, the first Democrat ever to be re-elected, and the first woman to be elected to a third term. In 2013 she became president of the National State Auditors Association and in 2014 was named one of 15 Most Influential Professionals in Government Auditing.[1]

Political career[edit]

Otto initially led a successful school levy campaign in Forest Lake, and then was elected to the Forest Lake School Board. In her first race for the Minnesota State House in 2002, she was defeated by incumbent Mark Holsten. However, the seat opened after Holsten was appointed to the office of Deputy Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources by Governor Tim Pawlenty. A Special Election was scheduled to fill the vacancy. Otto ran for the House seat again and defeated opponent Matt Dean in that Special Election.[2]

Later in 2003, Otto and her husband, Shawn Lawrence Otto were indicted by a grand jury for allegedly distributing false campaign material, a misdemeanor. She replied that the charges, filed by House Speaker Steve Sviggum, a Republican, were politically motivated and baseless.[3] She was supported by a number of individuals, including former Governor Arne Carlson, a Republican, who signed a letter criticizing the indictment as politically motivated. In December 2003, the indictment was criticized by the judge as improper. The judge dismissed the charges and struck down the campaign finance law being used in the prosecution as unconstitutional. Otto lost her re-election bid in 2004 to opponent, Matt Dean.

Otto declared her candidacy for State Auditor in March 2005 and ran against Republican incumbent Patricia Anderson. She won the DFL endorsement and, after discovering hundreds of millions of dollars in errors made by Anderson,[4] she won the general election in 2006 by the largest margin of victory over an incumbent in 112 years (since 1894). Republican former Governor and State Auditor Arne Carlson supported Otto in the 2006 election. She was also endorsed by two other former state auditors, Mark Dayton (DFL), and Judi Dutcher (Republican in her first term, switched to DFL in the middle of her second term). In 2010, she was re-elected to a second term in a rematch against Anderson, surviving what many refer to as the US national Republican wave by 25,483 votes, while also facing opposition from two minor party candidates who took votes on her left. She ran for a third term in 2014. On June 3, 2014, former politician Matt Entenza filed papers to challenge Otto in the Minnesota DFL primary for the nomination to appear on the November ballot. Although Entenza spent over $758,000 (including $734,000 of his own money) on the campaign, outspending Otto more than four to one, Otto "crushed" Entenza's challenge with an astounding 81%-19%, an unheard-of result for a hotly contested race.[5] Then she won the General Election in November easily, gaining 52% of the vote, with 4 opponents splitting the other 48%.

On January 9, 2017, Otto announced her intention to seek the Democratic-Farmer-Labor nomination in the 2018 election for Governor of Minnesota.[6]

Awards and honors[edit]

Otto in 2017
  • 2014 Named one of 15 Most Influential Professionals in Government Auditing by the Institute of Internal Auditors, the 180,000-member international auditing professional organization. In naming her the group cited the "courage, integrity, and leadership necessary to confront and overcome political and public pressures."[7]
  • 2014 recipient of the President’s Award from the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers (NASACT). "State Auditor Otto was honored with the award to recognize her national leadership and her efforts to improve government operations as one of NASACT’s representatives on the national Alliance to Transform State Government Operations (Alliance)." [8]
  • 2013 Elected by her nonpartisan peers to be President of the National State Auditors Association.[9]
  • 2010 Received the Distinguished Service Award from the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association,[10] for her work overhauling state fire laws. Otto is the sixth person and first Constitutional Officer to receive the group's high honor.
  • 2009 Honoree of the National Women's History Month, alongside Hillary Clinton, Sally Ride, Jane Goodall, and other "Women taking the lead to save our planet," the 2009 theme, for her environmental leadership.[11]
  • 2009 Recipient of the National State Auditors Association[12] "Excellence in Accountability Award" for her special project "Best Practices Review: Reducing Energy Costs in Local Government"[13]

Electoral history[edit]

  • 2014 MN State Auditor
    • Rebecca Otto (DFL) (inc.), 52%
    • Randy Gilbert (R), 40%
    • Patrick Dean (IP), 4%
    • Keegan Iverson (L), 1%
    • Judith Schwartzbacker (GR), 3%
  • 2014 MN State Auditor DFL Primary
  • 2010 MN State Auditor
    • Rebecca Otto (DFL) (inc.), 48.39%
    • Patricia Anderson (R), 47.13%
    • Annie Young (G), 2.67%
    • Kenny Kalligher (GR), 1.75%
  • 2006 MN State Auditor
    • Rebecca Otto (DFL), 52%
    • Patricia Anderson (R) (inc.), 41%
    • Lucy Gerold (IP), 5%
    • Dave Berger (G), 2%
  • 2004 MN State House Seat 52B
    • Matt Dean (R), 51.59%
    • Rebecca Otto (DFL) (inc.), 48.32%
  • 2003 MN State House Seat 52B (Special Election)
    • Rebecca Otto (DFL), 54.30%
    • Matt Dean (R), 43.47%
  • 2002 MN State House Seat 52B
    • Mark Holsten (R) (inc.), 58.75%
    • Rebecca Otto (DFL), 41.17%


  1. ^ "The IIA Recognizes Most Influential Professionals in the Public Sector". Institute of Internal Auditors. March 26, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Rebecca Otto will make 2nd bid for House 52B". Retrieved July 20, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Rep. Otto and her husband were indicted on election issue charges". Retrieved July 20, 2010. 
  4. ^ "State Auditor corrects report after Rebecca Otto points out $180.1 million error". Retrieved October 25, 2010. 
  5. ^ "State Otto trounces Entenza in auditor race". Retrieved August 31, 2014. 
  6. ^ Coolican, J. Patrick. "State Auditor Rebecca Otto announces run for governor". StarTribune. Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  7. ^ "IIA Launches American Center for Government Auditing". Retrieved April 2, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Rebecca Otto Receives 2014 NASACT President’s Award" (PDF). Retrieved August 16, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Rebecca Otto named President of National State Auditors Association". Retrieved Dec 2, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Auditor Rebecca Otto gets Minnesota fire chiefs' award". Retrieved October 25, 2010. 
  11. ^ "National Women's History Project". Retrieved July 20, 2010. 
  12. ^ "The National State Auditors Association". NASACT. Retrieved July 20, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Auditor’s report wins national accountability award". May 11, 2009. Retrieved July 20, 2010. 

External links[edit]

Minnesota House of Representatives
Preceded by
Mark Holsten
Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives
from the 52B district

Succeeded by
Matt Dean
Political offices
Preceded by
Patricia Anderson
Auditor of Minnesota