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Campaign financing ‘sunshine’ doesn’t appear to be in political forecast

Don’t look for a little more sunshine on Minnesota campaign financing any time soon.
On Tuesday, Gov.

Don’t look for a little more sunshine on Minnesota campaign financing any time soon.

On Tuesday, Gov. Mark Dayton stood with four DFL legislators in support of legislation that would require state pols and groups that raise money for political purposes to file reports quarterly, as opposed to annually as required by current state law.

Dayton is so convinced of the rightness of this bill that he plans to volunteer to abide by it from this time forward.

But the absence of any Republicans in the room showed that this is an idea that’s not going to be turned into law, at least unless DFLers are willing to do some serious horse trading.

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DFL legislators implied that Republicans might be more interested in supporting the campaign finance bill if DFLers would support the Republican desire to require voters to have a photo identification card. That’s not likely to happen.

Still, DFLers insist their campaign finance bill, which resembles current law for federal pols, is important in creating more “transparency’’ in how government operates.

Currently, they pointed out, there’s a 13-month gap between reporting periods. That means, according to the governor, “the public doesn’t know” which individuals and groups are pouring money into the political system during the legislative session.

“You can give money up to the day before the session begins and hide for a year before there’s disclosure,” said Sen. John Marty, an author of the bill in the Senate.

The DFLers noted that on the day before this session began, the Republican legislative caucuses held a fundraiser.

Guests to that event, they said, paid as much as $7,500, yet no disclosures are required until Jan. 31 of next year.  That, of course, is long after the decisions of this session have been made.

Dayton said he did not “want to cast aspersions” on anyone. “But you learn in politics that money is important.”

Dayton has a personal stake in this.  He said there currently are television ads running that claim he wants to raise taxes on all Minnesotans.

“It’s the same old lie,” he said.

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But there is no requirement that the sponsors of the ad report until next year, long after the tumult and shouting of this legislative session is over.