The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board released a report last Friday that found that during the gubernatorial election in 2010, the Republican Party of Minnesota (RPM) intentionally circumvented campaign finance laws. The Board fined the Minnesota Republican Party nearly $30,000, and the former party chair Tony Sutton $3,000, for illegally accepting campaign contributions.
Mike Dean, a member of Common Cause Minnesota, the organization that filed the complaint to the Board, told the Star Tribune that the Republican Party “attempted to use a shell corporation to hide over a half million dollars in debt from the public.” The Board agreed with Dean, finding that the RPM had been illegally funneling contributions through the for-profit corporation Count Them All Properly, with the intention of avoiding campaign finance laws. The Star Tribune outlined the Board’s findings, saying:
Sutton said GOP lawyers Tony Trimble and Michael Tonor provided advice on how to structure the company and manage its arm’s-length relationship with the party.
The board found Sutton’s arrangement with Count Them All Properly to be an intentional way to maneuver around the state’s campaign finance reporting laws.
Since the board does not recognize Count Them All Properly as a political committee, its payment of $27,000 in legal fees amounted to an inappropriate and unreported campaign contribution, the board found.
Aside from finding that the RPM was illegally funneling campaign money, the Board also found that the Party had sloppy bookkeeping and “out of control” spending. This fine is not the first time RPM has had a run-in with the law this year. In April, the RPM was served an eviction notice after failing to pay their rent, owing the landlord $111,192.14.