Senate leader says he's not concerned about allegations of campaigning at the Capitol; DFL chair is outraged

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  • August 16, 2012 - 3:20 PM

DFL Party chair Ken Martin is alleging Republican Senate staffers crossed the when they alleged picked up campaign material at the state Capitol.

Based on news reports, Martin said that he believes Republican staffers, at very least, picked up campaign literature and coordinated so-called "lit drops" out of a Capitol office on Tuesday. He has asked the Department of Administration, which is responsible for overseeing state employees and state property, to investigate.

"The use of the state Capitol to orchestrate campaign activities is illegal, unethical and threatens to erode the public's trust in its elected officials and state employees," Martin said in a letter to Administration Commissioner Spencer Cronk.

But Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said Republicans are careful not to run afoul of laws that separate campaign work from official work.

“I’m not at all concerned about it,” he said of the report suggesting political work on government time, using government space.

Asked if there was political activity in the caucus at the Capitol, he said, “Not to my knowledge. We emphasize that all the time. Watching your time cards, things like that.”

The Republican employees were allegedly told they could do campaign work during the day Tuesday and then work through their lunch hours the rest of the week to make up the time.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said his caucus does not schedule campaign events during the work day, in part because they need more than just an hour's lunch to get things done. He said the alleged GOP activity was wrong but not new.

"I don’t think they should stage door knocks out of the Capitol," Bakk said. He said he heard similar things happened two years ago. "I don’t think it’s a deliberate violation of the law. I just think they don’t know any better."


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