The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure board is cash-strapped and looking for ways to improve the situation, according to a memo from its executive director.
Later this week, the board will discuss whether it should ask lawmakers and the governor for $1 million for each of the next fiscal years or seek a smaller amount but institute registration fees on lobbyists, candidates or political committees to make up the gap. While other states use fees, executive director Gary Goldsmith told board members in a memo that fees could result in a lawsuit no matter how they are set.
The board currently has a budget of $689,000, which Goldsmith said is the lowest level it has been since 2003.
With the current budget levels, "we have been able to carry on, but never to excel or improve," he said.
At the same time, the board has seen a "soaring number of complaints," which it has a tough time investigating; received questionable campaign finance reports that it cannot investigate or audit; has no staff time to analyze the data it accumulates, and offers treasurers less support and training than they need.
The board will meet on Wednesday to discuss its legislative recommendations in full.
RACHEL E. STASSEN-BERGER