Sale of Public Property to Public Officers and Employees

Generally, political subdivisions may not sell property or materials owned by the political subdivision to its officers or employees.

The relevant statute, Minn. Stat. § 15.054, contains an exception to this general prohibition for employees, but not for officers, if the property or materials are no longer needed by the political subdivision and the sale is made after reasonable public notice (at least one week’s published notice) at a public auction or by sealed bids. To qualify for the exception, the employee must not be directly involved in the auction or the sealed bid process.

The general prohibition also does not apply to property or materials acquired or produced by the political subdivision for sale to the general public in the ordinary course of business.

A separate law, Minn. Stat. § 382.18, prohibits county officials and employees, and commissioners of tax-forfeited lands and their assistants, from purchasing any property, real or personal, from the county. In a 1979 opinion, the Attorney General’s Office stated that, notwithstanding the prohibitions of this statute, county employees may purchase county property if the requirements of Minn. Stat. § 15.054 are satisfied.

Date this Avoiding Pitfall was most recently published: 7/28/2023