STATE OF MINNESOTA
CAMPAIGN FINANCE AND PUBLIC DISCLOSURE BOARD
FINDINGS IN THE MATTER OF A COMPLAINT REGARDING SATVEER CHAUDHARY
On November 1, 2002, Marlaine Szurek (“Complainant”) filed a complaint with the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board (“the Board”) against the Friends of (Satveer) Chaudhary Committee (“the House Committee”) and the Chaudhary (Satveer) for Senate Committee (“the Senate Committee”).
The Complainant alleged that House Committee failed to disclose on its Report of Receipts and Expenditures for calendar year 1998 the use of campaign office space and telephones shared with the campaign committee of Representative Geri Evans. The Complainant also questioned the status of a personal computer purchased by the House Committee.
The Complainant alleged that the Senate Committee failed to report some contributions and expenditures on the Senate Committee’s Report of Receipts and Expenditures for calendar year 2000. Specifically, the Complainant alleged that the Senate Committee failed to report expenditures for mailings in 2000. The Complainant also alleged that Candidate Chaudhary delivered three checks to the Novak for Congress Committee that were made out to three other entities: Chaudhary for Senate, Senate DFL Caucus, and the Algore [sic] Committee.
By letters dated November 4, 2002, and November 25, 2002, Senator Chaudhary was notified of the complaint and afforded an opportunity to respond. On January 31, 2003, Amy Dawson, attorney, responded on behalf of Senator Chaudhary. On April 11, 2003, Alan Weinblatt, attorney, provided additional information on behalf of Senator Chaudhary. Mr. Weinblatt also provided notarized affidavits signed by Senator Chaudhary and Dr. Surendra Chaudhary, dated April 3, 2003.
In response to the Complainant’s allegation that the House Committee failed to report the use of office space and telephones, Ms. Dawson stated “Mr. Chaudhary has no recollection of using any shared office in 1998.”
In response the Complainant’s concern regarding the status of the personal computer Ms. Dawson stated “the computer remained the property of the House committee until 2000, when it was leased by the Senate committee. The House committee has now been terminated and the computer transferred to the Chaudhary Senate committee.”
In response to the Complainant’s allegation that the Senate Committee failed to report expenditures for mailings, Ms. Dawson stated that “there is no reason to believe that the Chaudhary Senate Committee made any mailings that have not been accounted for on its 2000 report.”
In response to the Complainant’s allegation that Candidate Chaudhary delivered three checks to Steven Novak’s congressional campaign committee, Ms. Dawson stated “all three checks were rendered void and non-negotiable and then returned to the drafters of the checks, as was agreed upon by Senator Chaudhary and Steve Novak. Thus no contribution was ever made by the Chaudhary principal campaign committee to Steve Novak’s congressional committee.”
On November 27, 2002, the Board requested information from Steven Billings, former chair of the 52nd Senate District DFL. Mr. Billings responded on December 11, 2002, and stated “at least a portion of the space and phones” at the office at 151 Silver Lake Road was used as “campaign space” for the House Committee. Mr. Billings further stated that he was not aware of who arranged for or paid for the House Committee’s use of the office space and phones, but that the 52nd Senate District DFL was not involved in the transaction.
On December 11, 2002, the Board requested information from Representative Geri Evans regarding her committee’s use of office space at 151 Silver Lake Road. Representative Evans responded on February 21, 2003, and stated that her committee used space at 151 Silver Lake Road for an event. Representative Evans stated that she did not know if the Friends of (Satveer) Chaudhary Committee used space at 151 Silver Lake Road as a campaign office.
On February 4 and 11, 2003, the Board requested information from Rodney Billman, the owner of the property located at 151 Silver Lake Road, regarding the use of office space by then Representative Chaudhary and Representative Geri Evans. An employee of Billman Rentals, Daniel Kersey, responded on February 10th and 12th, 2003, and confirmed that photographs of the office space provided to the Board were photographs of the office space at 151 Silver Lake Road. Mr. Kersey also stated that the Minnesota Democratic Party rented space at 151 Silver Lake Road from September through November 1998, and paid $300 for this space on September 29, 1998.
On February 5, 2003, the Board requested information from Steven Novak regarding the altered checks that were allegedly delivered by Candidate Chaudhary to the Novak for Congress committee. Mr. Novak responded on February 14, 2003, and stated that Representative Chaudhary delivered the checks to the Novak for Congress Committee headquarters in their altered state. Mr. Novak added that Candidate Chaudhary “that it was okay for us to deposit them [the checks].”
On April 3, 2003, Senator Chaudhary submitted two affidavits, one signed by himself and one signed by his father, Dr. Surendra Chaudhary. The affidavits assert that at a meeting in Dr. Chaudhary’s home occurring in late August or early September, 2000, Candidate Chaudhary agreed to give Senator Novak voided checks that Candidate Chaudhary had received from several contributors with the understanding that Senator Novak would contact those persons to ask for a contribution. The affidavits further stated that Senator Novak expressly agreed not to deposit the checks and understood that they were not intended as contributions or transfers.
The matter was considered by the Board in executive sessions on November 20, 2002, January 15, 2003, February 24, 2003, and April 23, 2003. Ms. Dawson appeared on behalf of Senator Chaudhary on February 24, 2003. No one appeared on behalf of the Complainant. The Board’s decision was based upon the complaint, the response and testimony of Ms. Dawson on behalf of Senator Chaudhary, the response from Mr. Billings, the responses from Billman Rentals, the response from Mr. Weinblatt, the affidavit of Senator Chaudhary, the affidavit of Dr. Chaudhary and Board records.
Based on the record before it, the Board issues the following:
Based on the above Statement of the Evidence, the Board makes the following:
Based on the above Findings, the Board issues the following:
Board staff shall provide copies of these Findings to Senator Chaudhary and Ms. Szurek.
Dated: April 24, 2003 _________________________________________
Clyde Miller, Chair
Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board