A Republican allied political group on Thursday filed a complaint against a DFL House candidate and a former DFL legislator alleging violations of campaign-finance law.
The Minnesota Jobs Coalition says Gary Schindler, the current DFL candidate hoping to unseat the GOP incumbent, Peggy Bennett of Albert Lea, "knowingly" received a banned corporate donation. That donation - for nearly $2,900 - came from the business of former state DFL legislator, Robin Brown, the Jobs Coalition said in the campaign.
The outside political group is asking the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board to investigate. It alleges that the two campaign committees "falsified" their campaign-finance reports in accounting for the donation that they said came from Brown's horse business, Wedgewood Peruvian Pasos.
"Gary Schindler owes Minnesotans an explanation as to why he knowingly accepted a prohibited corporate contribution and then falsified his campaign finance report to cover it up," said Kevin Magnuson, Jobs Coalition president, said in a statement.
Joseph Brown, the treasurer for Robin Brown's campaign committee and the former legislator's husband, disputed the notion a violation was knowingly made. He explained that any problem stemmed from keeping three accounts with one bank: a personal one, one for the horse business and one for his wife's campaign.
He said there was no intention to violate campaign-finance law, but simply to transfer the remaining balance -- $2,896.56 -- from his wife's unsuccessful re-election bid in 2010. For nearly six years, he said he didn't close the account after his wife chose not to run for office again.
Brown said that in hindsight, he would have closed the campaign account immeidately after his wife decided not to seek office again. "In retrospect, it should have been done differently."
"If didn't file the right procedures, I certainly apologize for that," he said. "If there is [a violation], I'll take full responsibility for that."
A message seeking comment from Schindler was not immediately returned Thursday.
Gary Goldsmith, executive director of the campaign finance board, said he was unable to confirm or deny the existence of a complaint until the campaign-finance board takes more definitive action. Under state law, a complaint must go through several steps before the board determines whether to open a formal or informal investigation or to dismiss it.