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Minnesota campaign finance database errors prompt legislative hearing

  • Blog Post by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger
  • November 18, 2013 - 2:51 PM

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."

Read the Star Tribune's findings on the electronic problems here.

© 2014 Star Tribune