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Campaign agency weighs in on Dayton's political use of the state plane

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota campaigns, Minnesota governor, Gov. Mark Dayton Updated: September 10, 2013 - 4:42 PM

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 the violations did not require punishment.

The board, in concluding a complaint from the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, did not opine on whether it is appropriate for Dayton to use the state plane for political trips.

The issue arose late last year after Dayton used the state plane on several outstate trips and made both official and campaign stops. Months later he paid for the use of the plane, the Star Tribune reported.

The Minnesota Jobs Coalition, run by Republican operative Ben Golnik, also found that Dayton made additional political trips using the state plane last year but did not acknowledge or reimburse the state according to his 2012 or 2013 reports.

After a complaint from the Jobs Coalition, Dayton, who voluntarily reports his spending and raising on a more frequent basis than required by state law, made several amendments to his campaign finance reports and acknowledged that the payments or debts should have been reported earlier.

The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure board did not believe that the costs of the trips were left off on purpose, particularly given the Star Tribune's reports on the planned payments.

"Instead, the record before the Board points to both inadvertent human error and a misunderstanding of the reporting requirements for campaign expenditures," the board found.

While the board said the errors meant Dayton's year-end report violated Minnesota law because it was incomplete, it also found that the campaign corrected those errors. Given those corrections, the board said it would not penalize the Dayton campaign.

"We are pleased with the Board's findings," Dayton campaign manager Katharine Tinucci said.

For his part, Golnik highlighted that the board found that Dayton had, indeed, violated state law with his late reports on the money owed for the use of the state plane. He also indicated that if the governor continues to use state transportation for his politicking, the Minnesota Jobs Coalition will be watching.

“Minnesota taxpayers should be very troubled that their governor used a state-owned plane for campaign events," he said.

Read the board's findings below:

09 09 2013 Dayton Better MN by Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

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