Margaret Anderson-Kelliher and the DFL are getting fined for essentially trying to skirt Minnesota’s campaign finance laws:

A state oversight committee fined House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher’s gubernatorial campaign $9,000 and the state Democratic-Farmer-Labor committee $15,000 over a campaign finance deal that had Democrats and Republicans alike crying foul.

Under the arrangement, several Kelliher donors were directed to the DFL party to pay for an expensive voter database after Kelliher had reached a fundraising cap set in state law. The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board today found probable cause that the campaign and the party violated separate state election laws, both gross misdemeanors, and issued the fines.

At least one Democratic candidate issued a swift condemnation following the board’s decision.

“What we have seen in the DFL’s behavior amounts to an ‘inside job’ that’s unfair to all the other campaigns that played by the rules,” said Bridget Cusick, spokeswoman for former House Minority Leader Matt Entenza. Entenza is seeking the DFL endorsement, but has said he will run in a state primary election whether or not he gets it.

I don’t often agree with Matt Entenza but his campaign has it exactly right. This wasn’t the DFL and the Kelliher campaign playing on the up and up. MNGOP Chairman Tony Sutton put things in perfect perspective:

Sutton used as simple an analogy as he could to clarify the cash/services issue.

“If I give you $500 for your campaign for governor,” he said, “I can’t then turn around and give you $500 worth of copy paper.”

“These people have been around,” said Sutton. “They know the rules. It’s so basic. When you file to become a candidate, you get a book: Here’s the rules, follow them. It’s not that hard.”

Chairman Sutton is exactly right. This isn’t that complicated. The DFL should be experts at this stuff. Ditto with Speaker Kelliher. Though the contributions made to the DFL at Speaker Kelliher’s request aren’t considered an in-kind campaign contribution, it’s similar in that a person can’t max out their cash contribution to a candidate, then give that candidate another thing of value. Clearly, that’s what happened in this instance.

I can’t imagine other candidates like Tom Bakk or Matt Entenza not having private conversation with Brian Melendez. I’m betting that those conversations wouldn’t be exchanges of pleasantries. I’m betting that they’d be rather heated.

Chairman Tony Sutton and Deputy Chairman Michael Brodkorb issued this statement following the CFB’s ruling:

“Today’s ruling vindicates our belief that Margaret Anderson Kelliher deliberately circumvented Minnesota’s campaign finance laws to benefit her campaign for governor. Along with R.T. Rybak, Kelliher is now the second DFL gubernatorial candidate to have been involved in a scheme to get around Minnesota’s campaign finance laws. Kelliher and other Democrats are wrong to think they don’t have to play by the rules. These sort of schemes demonstrate Kelliher does not have the judgment to lead our great state.”

Initially, the DFL and the Kelliher tried passing this off as a mistake. Chairman Sutton quickly exposed that with the quote I posted above.

The DFL can’t plausibly argue that they don’t have a culture of corruption problem to fix. Neither can Speaker Kelliher or Mayor Rybak. Speaker Kelliher and Mayor Rybak are veteran politicians who’ve supposedly read Minnesota’s campaign finance laws. It isn’t plausible that their campaign finance problems are a simple mistake.

This shouldn’t be the defining issue of the campaign but it certainly should be remembered by voters when they study the candidates and determine whether they’ll do what they’re promising to do.

It’s worth remembering that Matt Entenza has truth-telling issues, too. It’s worth remembering the different stories he told in 2006:

Entenza first downplayed his investigation into Hatch. He says in March of last year, he asked for basic public information that any citizen could get, and his campaign manager released the result to the press, a box of routine public documents on the attorney general’s office.

Two hours later, Entenza said he had just discovered that Chicago-based Gragert Research also asked a local sheriff about Hatch’s past parking record.

“I was just looking to get some basic public documents…They decided that they would get these extra public documents. And it is deeply embarrassing to me, and I take responsibility for the fact that it happened,” said Entenza.

Putting it politely, Entenza’s story isn’t credible. You don’t hire a high-powered, and high priced, oppo research company to get “basic public information that any citizen could get.” You can hire someone to google that sort of stuff.

It’s time we got rid of the DFL’s culture of corruption. More importantly, it’s time we got rid of their anti-prosperity policies, especially their tax increases.

Rybak, Kelliher and Entenza: Putting a high priority on raising taxes. Putting no priority on integrity.

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2 Responses to “Kelliher, DFL Fined”

  • Gary Gross says:

    Jennifer, Don’t hear what isn’t being said. I’ve condemned corruption wherever it’s found because there’s no such thing as acceptable corruption.

  • eric z. says:

    Gary, your response to Jenifer begs the question. The fact is, you wrote:

    “It’s time we got rid of the DFL’s culture of corruption. More importantly, it’s time we got rid of their anti-prosperity policies, especially their tax increases.

    “Rybak, Kelliher and Entenza: Putting a high priority on raising taxes. Putting no priority on integrity.”

    There are two flaws. First, unlike your response, you appear really only intent in getting rid of Dems, corruption being only a guise. Otherwise, why not write it in the body of the post as you delinquently qualify things, in a comment? Get rid of corruption in each party.

    Second, it is intellectually dishonest to equate policy differences over proper levels of taxation to a question of integrity.

    That is simply partisan intellectual floundering [having both eyes on only one side of the head and hence only seeing things one way].

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