The Minnesota Legislature is moving to fight back against the massive spending on their elections from outside groups by increasing the amount of campaign cash they can raise and spend for their own campaigns.

"This is a direct reaction to the large amounts of money that are being spent by third parties in elections that leave candidates, very often, without the ability to have very much of a voice in their own elections," said Rep. Ryan Winkler, a DFLer from Golden Valley.

His campaign finance bill passed the House on a 111-22 vote on Wednesday.

Last year saw record spending by third-party groups on legislative elections. In one Edina senate district  alone, independent outside groups spent more than $600,000 to influence the election.

"They are so drowned out by outside money that the candidate becomes decreasingly important in their own election," Winkler said.

The measure would allow House members to spend up to $60,000 on their own elections, up from $34,330, and would increase the permitted spending in other races as well. Gubernatorial candidates, who abide by spending limits, would be allowed to spend up to $5 million, up from just under $2.6 million.

It would also allow donors to give candidates larger gifts -- up to $6,000 for a gubernatorial candidate, an increase of $3,500 from current law.

The Senate passed a similar, but not identical, measure last week.




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