STATE OF MINNESOTA
CAMPAIGN FINANCE AND PUBLIC DISCLOSURE BOARD
FINDINGS IN THE MATTER OF A COMPLAINT REGARDING REPRESENTATIVE KNOBLACH AND THE HOUSE REPUBLICAN CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE
On July 17, 2002, Todd Malcolm ("Complainant"), filed a complaint with the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board ("Board") alleging that Representative Jim Knoblach and the House Republican Campaign Committee ("Respondents") violated certain provisions of Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 10A.
The Complainant alleged that radio campaign advertisements paid for by the House Republican Campaign Committee and identified as independent expenditures were coordinated with Representative Knoblach in violation of Minn. Stat. 10A.17 subds. 4 and 5.
The evidence submitted with the complaint consisted of a copy of an article from the St. Cloud Times dated June 21, 2002. Upon request of the Board, the Complainant provided a transcript of the radio advertisement referenced in the complaint.
By letters dated July 23, 2002, and August 14, 2002, Representative Knoblach and Speaker Steven Sviggum were notified of the allegations and afforded an opportunity to respond.
Representative Knoblach responded on August 20, 2002, and stated that the radio advertisements referenced in the complaint were made without his participation, cooperation or authorization. Representative Knoblach stated that he did telephone the House Republican Campaign Committee to request that the House Republican Campaign Committee cancel one particular radio advertisement, but did not communicate with the House Republican Campaign Committee about any other advertisement.
Speaker Sviggum responded on August 22, 2002, and stated that House Republican Campaign Committee's decision to run the advertisements was made "absolutely separate and independent from Representative Knoblach."
The matter was considered by the Board in executive sessions on July 24, 2002, and August 28, 2002. Neither of the parties presented testimony. The matter was considered based on the compliant, documents provided by the Complainant, and the responses provided by Representative Knoblach and Speaker Sviggum.
Based on the record before it, the Board issues the following:
STATEMENT OF THE EVIDENCE
1. Minn. Stat. 10A.01, subd. 18, defines an independent expenditure as an expenditure made without the express or implied consent, authorization, or cooperation of, and not in concert with or at the request or suggestion of, any candidate or any candidate's principal campaign committee or agent.
2. The St. Cloud Times article dated June 21, 2002, provided by the Complainant indicated that the Respondent requested that the House Republican Campaign Committee cease running a particular radio advertisement. The article stated "Knoblach said that he asked the Republican House Caucus to stop running one ad that cites an increase in crime in Stearns County during Kostreba's tenure as sheriff."
3. In his letter dated August 20, 2002, Representative Knoblach stated that he did not communicate with the House Republican Campaign Committee prior to either advertisement. Representative Knoblach stated "the ad had been written, produced, placed and the money had been spent without my participation, cooperation or authorization."
4. Representative Knoblach stated that he did request the cancellation of one advertisement but did not communicate with the House Republican Campaign Committee regarding any other advertisement. In his letter dated August 20, 2002, Representative Knoblach stated "I called the House Republican Caucus and asked them to stop running an ad that was already playing in the public domain. He further stated "I did not ask the House Republican Campaign Caucus to cancel any of the other ads. Those other expenditures had also been made, the ads they bought were also running on the radio, and I expected those ads would continue to run for whatever period of time had been purchased."
5. In his letter received August 22, 2002, Speaker Sviggum stated "the decision to run ads for the benefit of Rep. Knoblach and against Mr. Kostreba in the race for House district seat 15A was made by the House Republican Campaign Committee absolutely separate and independent from Representative Knoblach. " Speaker Sviggum further indicated that "neither Representative Knoblach nor any person associated with his campaign committee had any participation in determining the content of the ads."
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 the House Republican Campaign Commitee or Representative Knoblach knowingly violated Minn. Stat. 10A. 17, subd. 4. Without other evidence of cooperation or participation, merely requesting that an organization stop the use of a particular advertisement after the advertisement has run is not evidence that the original expenditure was made in concert with or at the request or suggestion of a candidate.
Based on the above Findings, the Board issues the following:
The complaint regarding Representative Knoblach and the House Republican Campaign Committee is dismissed in all respects and the record in this matter is hereby entered into the public record in accordance with Minn. Stat. 10A.02, subd. 11.
Douglas A. Kelley, Chair
Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board