DFL gubernatorial candidate Margaret Anderson Kelliher was fined $9,000 Wednesday for violating two campaign finance laws when her supporters contributed to a state party fund to conduct voter research for her.
The state DFL party was fined $15,000 for participating in the arrangement, which allowed supporters to sidestep individual candidate contribution limits by giving money to the party in Kelliher's behalf.
The ruling by the state Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board said Kelliher and the DFL party intended to circumvent the law.
"Members of the DFL staff and the Kelliher Committee were aware of the contribution limits and disclosure obligations...and put in place an option for donors that rendered ineffective those statutory provisions," the board wrote. "Avoidance of these provisions was the underlying purpose."
A DFL lawyer said earlier that it accepted responsibility for "the goof." The flap arose after other DFL candidates for governor discovered that Kelliher’s supporters were allowed to contribute to the DFL to pay for her access to the party’s database on voters, which competitors said smacked of favoritism.
Three donors took Kelliher up on that option. Kelliher also got credit for four other donations given to the DFL. Some of donations have since been returned and Kelliher has since paid the DFL $13,000 for the database from her campaign coffers. Direct payments were required of the other candidates for governor.
Minnesota senators sharply questioned federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch during Wednesday's Supreme Court confirmation hearings, grilling him on whether he'd be protect the interests of ordinary people over corporations.
Other business groups like realtors, electric utility Xcel Energy Services, private colleges, tobacco giant Altria, Polymet Mining, health insurers and hospitals contributed to the overall total of $57.7 million to lobby the Legislature, the administration of Gov. Mark Dayton and Metro municipal governments.