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In response to DFL complaint, board clears GOP of campaign finance violations

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota campaigns, Minnesota legislature, Minnesota state senators, Political ads, Democrats, Republicans Updated: April 23, 2014 - 6:16 PM

The Minnesota campaign finance board cleared the Minnesota Republican Party and the Senate Republicans' campaign arm of 2012 violations, according to a recently released decision.

The agency found that the Republicans made some mistakes on their year-end reports, filed  which made it harder to track the party's independent spending on senate races but the errors were inadvertent and fixed through corrections made last month.

"There is no basis to believe that the costs related to the independent expenditures were deliberately misreported. Instead, the record before the Board points to an attempt to report all of the associated costs that was foiled in part by an incomplete understanding of how to use the Campaign Finance Reporter software," the board wrote in closing its investigation.

The investigation was prompted by a DFL Party complaint, filed in January, which accused the Republicans of hiding 2012 spending.

In response to the investigation, the Republican Party treasurer Bron Scherer said the way the Republican Party and the Republican Senate committees did their reporting may have "created a potential for confusion" but the spending was not hidden. The board largely agreed.

In response to the decision, Republican Party Chair Keith Downey accused of the DFL of creating "media bluster" with its complaint.

In a statement, he said he hoped the board's conclusion, "will stop Democrats from filing a complaint and convicting us in the press before the Board even conducts its review."

The board this week also cleared the DFL of violations in response to a GOP complaint.

In January, Republican Party accused the DFL of blurring the lines between independent campaign work and House candidates by using photographs that were not publicly available. The board concluded that the DFL did independently obtain the photographs and found the DFL did not violate the rules of independence.

The recent GOP complaint has echoes of a 2012 Republican complaint. That one concluded in December 2013 and resulted in one of the largest campaign finance fines in state history.

Here's the board conclusion on the Republican Party matter:

04_22_2014_RPM by Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

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