STATE OF MINNESOTA
CAMPAIGN FINANCE AND PUBLIC DISCLOSURE BOARD
FINDINGS IN THE MATTER OF A COMPLAINT REGARDING PHILIP HEIR
On July 5, 2002, Senator Donald Betzold (“Complainant”), filed a complaint with the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board (“Board”) alleging that Philip Heir (“Respondent”) violated Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 10A.
The Complainant alleged that on May 31, 2002, the Respondent improperly discharged a $5,000 debt when he terminated the registration of the Heir Volunteer Committee. The Complainant also stated that prior to filing the termination statement, the Respondent mailed notification to the creditor, Faegre and Benson, LLP, (“Faegre”) that the Heir Volunteer Committee was terminating its registration with the Board.
The Complainant further stated that on June 3, 2002, three days after terminating the Heir Volunteer Committee, the Respondent registered the Heir for Senate Committee (#15761), another principal campaign committee for Philip Heir for the same office. The Complainant contends that discharging the debt owed by the Heir Volunteer Committee was improper and requests that the Board direct the Heir for Senate Committee to assume the debt of the Heir Volunteer Committee.
The Complainant submitted no evidence in support of the complaint. However, the facts as provided in the complaint are an accurate description of information contained in Board records. The Heir Volunteer Committee first reported an outstanding obligation of $5,000 to Faegre on its 1994 Report of Receipts and Expenditures. This debt was reported on all subsequent reports through 2002.
On July 29, 2002, staff notified the Respondent of the complaint and afforded him an opportunity to respond. No response was received.
By letter dated July 30, 2002, the Board requested information from Faegre regarding the status of the debt. Robert Hentges responded on behalf of Faegre by letter dated August 9, 2002. Mr. Hentges stated that Mr. Heir retained Faegre on August 6, 1992, to represent him in a “non-campaign law matter” and that that Mr. Heir was billed $8,385.95 for legal services. Mr. Hentges further stated that Faegre was paid $800 on October 16, 1992, $2,200 on December 16, 1992, and $385.95 on October 19, 1994. Faegre wrote the bill off as “uncollectable” on August 29, 1996.
On its Report of Receipts and Expenditures for 1992 the Heir Volunteer Committee reported a payment of $2,200 to Faegre. On its Report of Receipts and Expenditures for 1994 the Heir Volunteer Committee reported an additional payment of $385.95.
On August 22, 2002, staff again requested information from Mr. Heir about the debt to Faegre. By letter dated September 16, 2002, Mr. Heir explained the nature of the events surrounding the incurrence of the debt.
The matter was considered by the Board in executive sessions on July 24, 2002, August 28, 2002, and September 25, 2002. Neither of the parties presented testimony. The matter was considered based on the complaint, the response from Faegre, the response from Mr. Heir, and documents on file with the Board.
Based on the record before it, the Board issues the following:
STATEMENT OF THE EVIDENCE
1. The Heir Volunteer Committee was a principal campaign committee that registered with the Board on May 19, 1992.
2. The Heir Volunteer Committee first reported a $5,000 outstanding obligation to Faegre and Benson, LLP, on their Report of Receipts and Expenditures for Calendar Year 1994. The Heir Volunteer Committee indicated that this debt was incurred on February 3, 1994. The Heir Volunteer Committee reported this as an unpaid obligation on all subsequent reports.
3. On May 24, 2002, Phillip Heir mailed notification to Faegre and Benson, LLP, required by Minn. Stat. § 10A. 24 subd. 2, that the Heir Volunteer Committee was terminating its registration with the Board.
4. On May 31, 2002, the Heir Volunteer Committee terminated its registration with the Board. The Heir Volunteer Committee indicated that their debt to Faegre and Benson, LLP, was more than six years old, and provided a copy of the notification to Faegre and Benson, LLP, as required by Minn. Stat. §10A.24.
5. Robert Hentges stated that Philip Heir’s $8,385.95 debt to Faegre and Benson, LLP was for a “non-campaign related matter.” Mr. Hentges reported that from 1992 to 1994 Mr. Heir made three payments totaling $3,385.95.
6. The Heir Volunteer Committee reported two payments to Faegre and Benson, LLP, totaling $2,585.95.
7. On June 3, 2002, the Heir for Senate Committee registered with the Board.
Based on the above Statement of the Evidence, the Board makes the following:
FINDINGS CONCERNING PROBABLE CAUSE
There is no probable cause to believe that Philip Heir or the Heir Volunteer Committee violated Minn. Stat. § 10A. 24 by terminating a principal campaign committee with an outstanding debt, notifying the creditor of the termination, and subsequently registering another principal campaign committee for the same office.
Based on the above Findings, the Board issues the following:
The record in this matter is hereby entered into the public record in accordance with Minn. Stat. §10A.02, subd. 11.
Dated: September 25, 2002_________________________________________
Douglas A. Kelley, Chair
Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board