The Minnesota Legislature plans to hold a joint hearing to explore the inconsistencies the Star Tribune found in the state's electronic campaign finance data.
"There seems to be a bipartisan appetite to talk about this," said Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-Hopkins. Simon, the chair of the House Elections Committee, and his Senate counterpart Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Newport, hope to hold a joint hearing on the issues next month.
Earlier this month, the Star Tribune reported that in one of seven electronic records of donations from Minnesota groups are incorrect. In thousands of cases, groups reported receiving contributions that the donors did not report giving. In many others, groups reported giving contributions that the would-be recipient did not record receiving.
The faulty records, dating to 2001, mean that groups may have donated as much as $143 million or as little as $122 million, depending on which side of the ledger is to be believed.
In the wake of the Star Tribune's analysis, the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board removed some flawed records from its website, added a disclaimer to the information it has long shared online and began its own analysis of inconsistencies in its records.
Simon said the hearing will focus not only on the errors but also the need for accessible, functional campaign finance records online.
"It is a question of accuracy and accessibility," Simon said. "The website is not just an afterthought where you park stuff."
The Minnesota Republican Party has some advice for local groups when it comes to social media:
Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey was not available for comment about the draft recommendations on Tuesday during the day, his spokeswoman Rebekah Clearman said.
The reminder of best social media practices, slated to be discussed and potentially approved by the party executive committee this month, may come at the right time.
Last month, the Chisago County Republican Party posted an image of a slave auction and the message "Pro Choice; Against Slavery? Don't buy one" on Facebook.
Over the weekend, the Winona County Republican Party posted an image on Facebook of First Lady Michelle Obama with a gold grill, President Obama with no teeth and a image of Obama's campaign logo that looks not unlike a monkey. It also had other noteworthy posts.
Outrage followed. And the posts were taken down after attention was drawn to them.
The DFL Party has closely followed the Republican Party groups' social media postings, with the aid of a tracker.
Ellen Perrault, DFL Party spokeswoman, said since she joined the party staff in February the DFL has not sent out social media guidelines but does have social media coordinators throughout the state. She said the state party has not had to ask any local units to remove social media postings in that time.
Here is the Republican Party's draft on social media best practices:
Republican Marty Seifert, who ran for governor in 2010 and has been upfront about his interest in running again, says politicos should circle Nov. 21 on their calendars.
"I could be announcing anything," he said of his announcement at 1:30 p.m. in the State Office Building. "I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise."
But for Seifert, a former House minority leader from Marshall, there should be little surprise. He has left little doubt over the past few months that he's very interested in running for governor. On Tuesday, MinnPost cited sources saying Seifert would announce on Nov. 21; last week, the Morning Take newsletter said Seifert would announce on Nov. 18.
Last month, he came in third as a write-in candidate at the Minnesota Republican Party's straw poll for governor.
Before that showing, Seifert said: “I’d be leery of wanting to be the winner because they never go on to be the nominee."
Seifert won the 2009 gubernatorial straw poll and lost the 2010 endorsement for governor to Tom Emmer.
Gov. Mark Dayton had $343,234 in income last year, with his earnings from capital gains and dividends from exceeding his income from his state salary of $116,125 from the state.
The Democratic governor earned $92,381 from a family trust, more than doubling what he had received from the Bruce Dayton trust the year before, and $130,291 from capital gains. In 2011, he earned $190,998 from capital gains. He gave $1,000 in to charity, according to the return.
The scion to the Dayton department store fortune, who successfully pushed to increase taxes on upper income Minnesotans this year, paid $64,157 in federal income and $24,990 in state taxes. The governor's office said that his combined effective tax rate was 29.75 percent last year.
If next year Dayton brings in the taxable income he did in 2012, he would have to pay the higher state income tax rate the Legislature passed and he signed into law in 2013.
Dayton has released his tax returns every year since 2010.
Several of the Republicans running against Dayton have also made agreements to release their tax returns.
As of Tuesday afternoon, only Republican Dave Thompson had released his return to the Star Tribune.
According to Thompson's return, he and his wife earned $198,322 last year. The state senator from Lakeville said his family brought in income from his senate salary, Twin Cities Power LLC, Thompson's legal work and his wife's teaching income.
According to his federal return his family gave $20,465 to charity.
Thompson paid about $40,000 in total taxes last year.
The Star Tribune on Tuesday also requested tax return details from Republicans
Jeff Johnson, Scott Honour and Kurt Zellers, who are running for governor, and will update this post if it receives those returns.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson said late Tuesday that he would release his returns, minus information about his wife's income, to the Star Tribune quickly.
Dayton's tax return:
Thompson's tax return:
Republican Rep. Andrea Kieffer decided not to run for re-election for many reasons, she said Friday.
Her vote to legalize same-sex marriage was not among them.
"I would say that would have been the most compelling reason for me to run again," said Kieffer, a two-term representative from Woodbury. She was one of five legislative Republicans to support legalization earlier this year.
Kieffer said that no Republican had filed against her because of the vote and the reaction to her vote in May has been positive. Last year, her suburban district voted against the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, making her one of 33 Republicans who won last year in a district that rejected the amendment.
Instead, Kieffer said her decision not to run again was driven by personal reasons and her frustration with partisanship at the Capitol.
"I think everyone should strive to challenge and improve themselves and the world around them. But also remember to take a step back and look at the big picture. Ask yourself: Am I spending my time and resources wisely? Am I being effective?" Kieffer said. "At the end, I hope to have no regrets."
The personal: Keiffer's 23-year-old daughter has mitochondrial disease.
"My family needs me right now," she said.
"She is good. She's happy and comfortable and not in pain and she is able to take care of herself. I think those are wonderful blessings," Kieffer said.
Kieffer has already worked to raise awareness about the disease and raise money for research for it. She also said that, although she was for cell research before she learned of her daughter illness, it is a fortuitous position given that such research could help with the disease that befell her daughter.
"This is exactly the kind of stuff that our legislators are blocking that could potentially open up all these cures," she said. Kieffer said she will stay active in the mitochondrial disease foundation.
Compounding that reason not to run: the tone of politics these days.
"I am frustrated down at the Capitol. I feel like it's just banging your head at against a brick wall sometimes. The party politics gets in the way of good public policy so many times," she said. "It gets very frustrating."
Although she won her district by 10 percentage points last year and six percentage points the year before, the Woodbury area is considered a swing district. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won 52 percent of its votes last year; Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar won 62 percent and Democratic U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum won 48 percent, narrowly besting the Republican candidate.
"I think that this district looks at the candidate more than the party," she said. She said if voters get to know a candidate, "I think that goes way farther than political party."
Before Kieffer announced she would not vie for re-election, Democratic planning commission member Kay Hendrickson said she would run. Since the announcement, Minnesota Republican Party Deputy Chair Kelly Fenton said she was seriously considering a bid.