Minnesota’s campaign finance board found that DFL Gov. Mark Dayton violated state law with late reports on his political use of the state plane, but said the violations did not rise to the level of a fine.
The board, in dealing with a complaint from the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, did not rule on whether Dayton could appropriately use the state plane for political trips.
The issue arose late last year, after Dayton used the state plane on several outstate trips, making both official and campaign stops.
Months later, he paid for the use of the plane, the Star Tribune reported.
The Minnesota Jobs Coalition, a political committee run by Republican operative Ben Golnik, also found that Dayton made additional political trips using the state plane last year but that he did not acknowledge or reimburse the state according to his 2012 or 2013 reports.
After the Jobs Coalition complaint, Dayton, who voluntarily reports his spending and raising on a more frequent basis than required by state law, amended his campaign finance reports and acknowledged that the payments or debts should have been reported earlier.
The bipartisan Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure board said it did not believe Dayton had purposely left the cost of the trips unreported, noting Star Tribune reports on some of the planned payments.
“The record before the Board points to both inadvertent human error and a misunderstanding of the reporting requirements for campaign expenditures,” the board found.
The board found that Dayton’s year-end report violated state law because of its omissions, but said that given the campaign’s correction of those reporting errors, no fine would be levied.
“We are pleased with the board’s findings,” Dayton campaign manager Katharine Tinucci said.
Golnik pointed out that the board did find Dayton had violated state law with his late reports on the money owed for the use of the state plane.
“Minnesota taxpayers should be very troubled that their governor used a state-owned plane for campaign events,” he said.
The Office of the Legislative Auditor is also working on an audit of the governor’s office, which will examine his political use of state resources, according to Legislative Auditor James Nobles. That audit is expected to be complete later this year.
Rachel E. Stassen-Berger
State revenues down slightly in August
Minnesota’s tax revenues fell slightly below projection in August, but state officials said the dip could be due to factors other than the state’s level of economic activity.
Revenues for the month were nearly $1.3 billion, $26 million (or 2 percent) less than forecast. For the fiscal year that began July 1, overall revenues are 2 percent below projected levels.
Minnesota Management and Budget, which oversees the state’s budget, said changes in the dates that receipts are received could cause monthly variations.
The agency said “downtime for the state’s accounting system” over the Labor Day weekend pushed some August revenue into early September.
Shutterfly lands in Shakopee
Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday welcomed California-based Shutterfly Inc. to Shakopee, where the firm plans a new manufacturing facility.
“Shutterfly’s expansion will bring hundreds of new jobs to Shakopee and Minnesota,” Dayton said in a statement released by his office.
Dayton had personally visited the company in San Francisco, and he praised local and state officials for helping to lure the firm.
The move was aided by a $1 million loan from the Minnesota Investment Fund, Dayton said.
The company plans a manufacturing facility of 217,000 square feet, with completion targeted for next summer.
Shutterfly is an Internet-based image publishing service whose products include photo books, personalized announcements and invitations.
Katie Clark Sieben, commissioner of the state’s Department of Employment and Economic Development, said that Shutterfly is listed as one of the nation’s fastest-growing companies and that it is ranked among the best companies to work for.