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Minnesota GOP says $550,000 contribution to the DFL is illegal

The party says it will file a complaint against the Minnesota DFL State Central Committee challenging its contributions and accounting methods.

The Republican Party of Minnesota, investigated in the past for its contributions and accounting methods, says it will file a complaint against the Minnesota DFL State Central Committee challenging contributions it received and accounting methods.

The complaint, to be filed with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board and the Office of Administrative Hearing, alleges that a $550,000 contribution to the DFL from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) violates state law because it came from a fund that commingles corporate and individual contributions. Corporations cannot contribute to Minnesota political parties or candidates.

In its financial report filed on Monday [PDF], the DFL attached a one-page summary listing some of the DLCC contributors, all individuals. But in reports filed with the IRS, the DLCC lists multiple contributions from such corporations as AT&T, Astra Zeneca, Reynolds American and the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

Pat Shortridge
Pat Shortridge

“The bogus report made it look like they took only individual contributions, but if you’re going to file campaign reports, you have to file the whole report,” said Pat Shortridge, Republican Party chair. “You can’t cherry-pick 10 donors and say, ‘This is all.’ ”

Furthermore, Shortridge said, even if none of the DLCC contribution came from corporations, segregating individual contributions still doesn’t comply with the law. “The interpretation [by the Campaign Finance Board] has always been, if you take any corporate money, it’s all tainted,” he said.

Ken Martin, chair of the DFL Party, issued a statement Friday evening, saying in part:

“At the eleventh hour, the Republican Party is scrambling to change the narrative.  Their latest attack is just a desperate effort to to distract voters from the real issues in this election.

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“The Republican Party is trying to create controversy where none exists. The public record is clear that the funds we received from the DLCC consisted of contributions from individual donors. The only corporate spending happening in this election is the millions of dollars the Republicans’ allies are spending to smear Democratic candidates across the state.”

Republicans have a comparable organization, the Republican State Legislative Committee. But, Shortridge says, the RSLC “plays by the rules and does not give to the party.” 

The contribution from the DLCC is the DFL’s third-largest in the reporting period.

The penalties are stiff if the DFL were to be found in violation of the law. The party could be fined up to four times the amount of the contribution, or more than $2 million.

In the complaint, the Republican Party of Minnesota is asking the board to consider just such a penalty.  “It’s an attempt to mislead the Campaign Finance Board and the public,” Shortridge said.