STATE OF MINNESOTA
CAMPAIGN FINANCE AND PUBLIC DISCLOSURE BOARD
FINDINGS IN THE MATTER OF A COMPLAINT REGARDING MEG TILLEY FOR STATE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE
On October 14, 2002, Gale Anderson ("Complainant"), filed a complaint with the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board ("Board") alleging that the Meg Tilley for State House of Representatives Committee ("the Committee") violated Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 10A.
The Complainant alleged that the Committee violated Minn. Stat. 10A.20, subd. 3 (g), by failing to report the expense of the Committee's campaign headquarters.
The Complainant further alleged that Ms. Tilley received a reduced rental rate from McDonald Construction, Inc., from May 5, 2002, through July 4, 2002, on her residence at 3830 Adler Lane, in Eagan, Minnesota, and that she will receive a reduced rental rate from July 1, 2002, through July 5, 2003, on her residence at 1470 Englert Road in Eagan, Minnesota. The Complainant alleged that this reduction in rent should be considered as either an individual contribution from Robert McDonald or as a contribution from McDonald Construction, Inc. The Complainant alleged that if this reduction in rent is considered an in-kind contribution from Robert McDonald, it would be in excess of the $500 individual contribution limit, and that if this reduction in rent is considered an in-kind contribution from McDonald Construction, Inc., that this contribution would be an illegal corporate contribution and in excess of the contribution limit.
The Complainant submitted Ms. Tilley's testimony from Russ Lundquist v. Carol Leonard, MN Sup. Ct., C9-02-1351, a copy of Ms. Tilley's affidavit of candidacy, a copy of Ms. Tilley's rental agreement for a property located at 1470 Englert Road in Eagan, MN, a copy of Ms. Tilley's rental agreement for a property located at 3830 Adler Lane in Eagan, MN, and a screen shot from the Rental Classifieds section of the Star Tribune's website.
By letters dated October 15, 2002, October 25, 2002, and October 31, 2002, Ms. Tilley was notified of the complaint and afforded an opportunity to respond.
Alan Weinblatt of Weinblatt and Gaylord, PLC, responded on behalf of Ms. Tilley by letter dated November 8, 2002. In response to the allegation that the Committee did not report the expense of the committee headquarters Mr. Weinblatt stated that it is "Ms. Tilley's position that her campaign's use of some space at her former residence is neither an in-kind donation not a reportable expense." Mr. Weinblatt further stated "if minimal usage is considered to be an expense, a similar expense is chargeable against other candidates who use their homes as well."
In response to the alleged illegal campaign contribution, Mr. Weinblatt stated that Ms. Tilley pays cash rent of $200 per month, pays for all utilities, and is required to both maintain and repair the property.
Concerning the allegation that Ms. Tilley received an illegal gift, Mr. Weinblatt noted that this issue is not covered by Chapter 10A.
The matter was considered by the Board in executive sessions on October 23, 2002, and November 20, 2002. Neither of the parties appeared before the Board. The Board's decision was based on the complaint, the evidence submitted by the complainant, the response submitted by Mr. Weinblatt, and Board records.
Based on the record before it, the Board issues the following:
2. Generally, use of a private residence as a campaign headquarters for a legislative candidate does not meet the recording and reporting threshold for in-kind contributions.
3. Ms. Tilley's rental agreement for the residence at 1470 Englert Road in Eagan, Minnesota, is an agreement that provides consideration for both parties.
Based on the above Statement of the Evidence, the Board makes the following:
Based on the above Findings, the Board issues the following:
The complaint of Gale Anderson regarding the Meg Tilley for State House of Representatives Committee is dismissed in all respects. The Board investigation of this matter is hereby made a part of the public records of the Board pursuant to Minn. Stat. 10A.02, subd. 11.
Board staff shall provide copies of these Findings to the Margaret Tilley, Alan Weinblatt, and Gale Anderson.
Dated: Nov 20, 2002 _________________________________________
Douglas A. Kelley, Chair
Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board