Minnesota rebukes two conservative groups

  • Article by: ERIC ROPER
  • Star Tribune
  • December 10, 2010 - 9:30 PM

Minnesota's campaign finance regulators ruled Friday that two conservative groups that raised money to thwart Mark Dayton's bid for governor failed to properly register with the state as political funds.

But the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board declined to fine the groups, saying it found no "intentional plan or strategy" to avoid disclosure of donors.

The ruling stems from a complaint this fall filed by watchdog group Common Cause Minnesota. It said money for TV ads critical of Gov.-elect Mark Dayton had been illegally funneled from the Republican Governors Association [RGA] through a "shell corporation," Minnesota Future LLC, to avoid disclosing the source of donations.

"The board is sending a message to special interest groups that no one will hold them accountable for violating campaign disclosure laws," said Common Cause Minnesota Executive Director Mike Dean, who was disappointed the groups weren't fined.

The RGA donated about $400,000 this summer to Minnesota Future. The RGA donation was disclosed on campaign finance filings, but Common Cause argued that state law requires donor disclosure.

Common Cause also argued that Minnesota Future had failed to register with the Campaign Finance Board.

The board also ruled that a conservative group called State Fund for Economic Growth, which used money from TCF Financial Corp. to fund ads, had failed to register as a political committee.

Both Minnesota Future and the State Fund for Economic Growth have since registered.

A similar hand-off of funds occurred this election season between the Democratic Governors Association and the liberal group WIN Minnesota, which paid for attack ads against Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. But Common Cause said WIN's tax status meant they were not obligated to reveal DGA donors.

Eric Roper • 612-673-1732

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