Michelle MacDonald, a former candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court, has been fined $500 for violating state campaign-finance law when she claimed that she was endorsed by a state Republican Party convention committee earlier this year.
The fine, imposed by the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings, stems from a complaint filed by Steve Timmer and Barbara Linert off a description of MacDonald in October in a Star Tribune voters guide.
The state GOP’s judicial election committee had voted 20-2 in favor of endorsement in May, about a week before party delegates assembled for the state convention. MacDonald, a West St. Paul private attorney who was challenging incumbent Justice Natalie Hudson, was the only candidate interviewed.
Ultimately, a majority of convention delegates voted in favor of not endorsing any candidate. MacDonald was the party’s endorsed candidate in 2014.
According to the factual findings contained in the ruling against her this week, the endorsement section for MacDonald included endorsements from Christians United in Politics and noted MacDonald’s 2014 endorsement. It also listed an endorsement from the “GOP’s Judicial Selection Committee 2016,” an incorrect name for the committee that had recommended her for endorsement. That information was later removed.
MacDonald likened the recommendation by the judicial election committee to an endorsement, calling it a statement of support.
“An endorsement is the same as support,” she said.
MacDonald said she plans to sue to overturn the state statute that says a candidate may not “knowingly” make a “false claim stating or implying that a candidate or ballot question has the support or endorsement of a major political party or party unit or of an organization.”