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Minnesota Majority director McGrath not required to register as lobbyist

The state Campaign Finance Board determined that his efforts did not reach the mandatory threshold requiring registration.

Dan McGrath lobbied for Voter ID as executive director of Minnesota Majority, the state Campaign Finance Board determined on Tuesday — just not enough to require him to register as a lobbyist.

The board initiated an investigation into McGrath after Common Cause Minnesota filed a complaint against him in July.

It found that although McGrath did function as a lobbyist, neither his wages nor his group’s expenditures reached the level that would require him to register with the state.

Mike Dean, Common Cause executive director at the time, brought the complaint against McGrath and Minnesota Majority for activities between 2010 and 2012. During that period, McGrath met with lawmakers and testified before multiple legislative committees in favor of Voter ID legislation on behalf of his organization.

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The board made its decision based on evidence in Dean’s complaint, including tax documents and an affidavit McGrath submitted to the state Supreme Court this summer during litigation related to the voting amendment. McGrath and an attorney on retainer also provided information.

“The activities of Mr. McGrath described in the complaint, and by Mr. McGrath himself in his affidavit to the Minnesota Supreme Court, were clearly efforts to influence legislative actions on the 21st Century Voter ID legislation and the proposed constitutional amendment on voter identification,” the report says. “Therefore, Mr. McGrath’s actions were lobbying activities.”

But the board found no reason to believe that McGrath was paid more than $3,000 annually to lobby lawmakers; that Minnesota Majority paid any lobbyist more than $500; or that the group spent more than $50,000 to influence legislative action. It also found that McGrath himself didn’t spend more than $250 lobbying, as the complaint alleged.

McGrath said the board reached the “correct determination” and called the complaint a waste of time.

“The complaint was essentially a minor distraction from our campaign activities,” he said. “You can file these complaints and then you can distract your opponent.”

In an effort to “dispose of the complaint,” McGrath said his attorney sent in lobbying registration forms in early August but, upon further consideration, decided his activity didn’t require him to register.

McGrath reported to the board that he was paid between $1,044 and $1,615 per year from 2010 to 2012 for lobbying, which falls below the $3,000 limit.

“Although I’ve conducted some activity that they consider lobbying, I’m not a lobbyist,” he said.