STATE OF MINNESOTA

CAMPAIGN FINANCE AND PUBLIC DISCLOSURE BOARD

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Friday, August 27, 2004

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Room G – 31

Judicial Center

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MINUTES

 

Meeting was called to order by Chair Fluegel.

 

Members present: Ashmore, Bettermann, Boyd, Fluegel, Milbert, Miller

Others present: Olson, Sigurdson, Swanson, Drilias, staff; Huwe, Counsel

 

MINUTES  (July 22, 2004)

 

Mr. Miller's MOTION:                        To approve the July 22, 2004, minutes as drafted.

 

Vote on MOTION:       Unanimously passed by five members (Boyd absent).

 

CHAIR'S REPORT

 

·            Board Meeting Schedule

 

Next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 22, 2004.

 

·         Legislative Recommendation Subcommittee

 

Ms. Boyd, Mr. Miller, and Chair Fluegel will sit on the Legislative Recommendation Subcommittee. The subcommittee will review potential recommendations and bring suggestions to the full Board for consideration.

 

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S REPORT

 

Ms. Olson submitted the following written report:

 

·            Staff Activities

 

Staff continues to work with the Department of Revenue (DOR) to streamline the application process for the Political Contribution Refund program.  On July 23rd Ms. Swanson and Ms. Olson met with DOR staff to discuss a single form to replace the separate receipt and application forms currently used.

 

Staff received information from DOR about 2003 political contribution refunds made to contributors to candidate committees and political party units. The information is available on the Board's website.  Staff compared contribution information filed by candidates and political parties with the information from DOR and is contacting those candidates and parties which have a discrepancy in the numbers.

 

Affidavits of Candidacy were filed by 318 candidates for the House of Representatives.  As of today, all but three of those candidates filed the Statement of Economic Interest.  Public Subsidy Agreements and Affidavits of Contributions are due September 1st.  About 20 candidates have not filed the public subsidy agreement.  A reminder letter was sent to those candidates who have not filed one or more of the documents. 

 

On July 29th Mr. Sigurdson met with Ms. Nanthit Sa-Ardsorn from Thailand as well as Ms. Sa-Ardsorn's interpreter.  Ms. Sa-Ardsorn, a Political News Editor for the Nation News Agency in Thailand, was interested in public financing, campaign finance, political parties, lobbyist reporting, and the public information available from the Board.  

 

On July 31st Mr. Sigurdson presented compliance and software training to the Independence Party of Minnesota at its annual convention.

 

On August 5th Mr. Sigurdson was on the faculty of a continuing legal education seminar for candidates running for judicial office in 2004.

 

Campaign finance Reports of Receipts and Expenditures are due on August 30th from 318 candidates, about 350 political party units, and 350 political committees and funds.

 

Enforcement Report

 

Consent Item

 

Board Action:            Authorization for referral to the Office of the Attorney General for failure to file on Original Statement of Economic Interest and imposition of a civil penalty.  Candidates who filed for state office in 2004 were required to file a Statement of Economic Interest within fourteen days after filing an Affidavit of Candidacy. Two certified letters have been sent to the candidate and staff attempted to contact the candidate by telephone. 

 

                   Rich Cox, House District 66B

 

Ms. Bettermann's MOTION:       To authorize the actions specified in the consent matter.

 

Vote on MOTION:            Unanimously passed.

 

 

Discussion Items

 

Request to waive late fees and civil penalties

 

·         Lobbyist fee, payment due January 15, 2004

 

       Don Parmeter, lobbyist, Northern Counties Land Use Coordinating Board, $100 late fee, $1,000 in civil penalties - Mr. Parmeter paid his lobbyist fee on July 22, 2004.  In his waiver request, Mr. Parmeter stated that when he moved to St. Paul in November, he paid a fee in cash in person, he did not understand that this was separate from the fee that was due in January and did not intend to avoid the payment of appropriate fees.  Mr. Parmeter filed a Lobbyist Termination Statement in June 2004.

 

Mr. Milbert's MOTION:            To deny Mr. Parmeter's request to waive the $100 late filing fee and to reduce the civil penalty to $100.

 

Vote on MOTION:            Unanimously passed.

 

·         Principal fee, payment due March 15, 2004

 

       Sue Johnson, Minnesota Independent Auto Glass Association, $100 late fee, $1,000 in civil penalties - The association's fee was paid on July 2, 2004. In her waiver request Ms. Johnson stated that the president of the association recently moved and that the Board's notices “were lost in the shuffle."  Ms. Johnson stated “we are a small organization, without staff, and have limited experience with relating to the legislative process, hopefully you can understand how we failed to meet your filing deadline." 

 

Ms. Ashmore's MOTION:            To deny Ms. Johnson's request to waive the $100 late filing fee and to reduce the civil penalty to $100.

 

Vote on MOTION:            Unanimously passed.

      

       Robert Benner, lobbyist, Northwest Airlines, Inc., $100 late fee, $1,000 in civil penalties – The association's fee was received in the Board office on August 4, 2004.  In his waiver request, Mr. Benner stated that, “the notice of payment due was lost in another department and only recently forwarded to me." 

 

Ms. Ashmore's MOTION:            To deny Mr. Benner's request to waive the $100 late filing fee and to reduce the civil penalty to $100.

 

Vote on MOTION:            Unanimously passed.

 

 

·         Annual Report of Lobbyist Principal and Principal Fee due March 15, 2004

 

       George Goggleye, Chairman, Leech Lake Reservation Business Community, $200 late fees, $2,000 in civil penalties - The association's Annual report of Lobbyist Principal was received in the Board office on July 22, 2004.  The association's $50 principal fee was received in the Board office on July 26, 2004.  In his waiver request, Mr. Goggleye stated that, “tribal administration experienced a great deal of turmoil over the past year or so…[that] resulted in a general breakdown of the most fundamental governmental functions."  Mr. Goggleye further stated “the Band has experienced a great deal of staff turnover…I can assure you that the Band's new tribal administration is committed to ensuring that the Band's affairs are conducted in a professional and timely manner."    

 

Ms. Boyd's MOTION:            Due to pattern of late filing of reports and payment of fees, to deny Mr. Goggleye's request to waive the $200 late filing fee and to impose a civil penalty of $800.

 

Vote on MOTION:            Unanimously passed.

 

·         Lobbyist Disbursement Reports due January 15 and June 15, 2004; Lobbyist Fees due August 1, 2003, and January 15, 2004; Request to Retroactively Terminate a Lobbyist

 

       Kristina Seppala, Citizens for Local Phone Choice, $275 late fees, $1,000 in civil penalties, $100 lobbyist fees - On July 23, 2004, Kristine Seppala filed a Lobbyist Termination Report that disclosed a termination date of June 30, 2003. In her waiver request, Ms. Seppala stated that she moved to Alexandria, VA on June 30, 2003.  Ms. Seppala further stated that she did not receive the Board's notices regarding her outstanding reports and fees and that it was her understanding that her termination paperwork was filed in June 2003. Board records do not indicate that a termination report was filed at that time. 

Ms. Bettermann's MOTION:            To: 1) approve Ms. Seppala's request to waive the $275 late fees, the $1,000 in civil penalties, and the $50 lobbyist fee due January 15, 2004; 2) deny Ms. Seppala's request to waive the $50 lobbyist fee due August 1, 2003; and 3) direct staff to terminate Ms. Seppala's lobbyist registration effective June 30, 2003.

 

Vote on MOTION:     Unanimously passed.

 

 

Requests for extensions to amend Report of Receipts and Expenditures due February 2, 2004

 

       Mary Bonk, Comptroller, Minnesota DFL State Central Committee - Board staff recently contacted the Minnesota DFL State Central Committee regarding a discrepancy between information received from the Department of Revenue and information reported on the Minnesota DFL State Central Committee's Report of Receipts and Expenditures for calendar year 2003.  Ms. Bonk has requested an extension until September 15, 2004, to provide a written response to this inquiry. 

 

       Marina Taubenberger, Deputy Treasurer, Republican Party of Minnesota - Board staff recently contacted the Republican Party of Minnesota regarding a discrepancy between information received from the Department of Revenue and information reported on the Republican Party of Minnesota's Report of Receipts and Expenditures for calendar year 2003.  Ms. Taubenberger has requested an extension until September 15, 2004, to provide a written response to this inquiry. 

 

Mr. Milbert's MOTION:                        To approve Ms. Bonk's and Ms. Taubenberger's requests for an extension until September 15, 2004, to amend their 2003 Reports of Receipts and Expenditures.

 

Vote on MOTION:       Unanimously passed.

 

Request for a Payment Plan

 

       Bill McLaughlin, Bill McLaughlin Senate 3 Campaign, $400 - At its meeting on June 15, 2004, the Board issued Findings directing the Bill McLaughlin for Senate Committee to return $100 to Anthony Kwilas, a registered lobbyist, and directing Mr. McLaughlin to pay a civil penalty of $400.  Mr. McLaughlin has provided a copy of the check returning $100 to Mr. Kwilas and has requested a payment plan of $100 per month to pay the civil penalty.

 

Chair Fluegel's MOTION:            To approve Mr. McLaughlin's request for a payment plan of $100 a month with the first payment due in September 2004.

 

Vote on MOTION:       Unanimously passed.

 

Informational Items

 

Payment of Late Filing Fees

 

·         Lobbyist Disbursement Report due June 15, 2004

 

       Gerald Cutts, Development Corporation for Children:  $20

       Carl Ebert, Apple Tree Dental:  $60

       John Eckerman, Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce:  $10

       David Glass, Minnesota Indian Economic Development Fund:  $35

       Gary Thaden, Minnesota Mechanical Contractors Association:  $20

 

·         Report of Receipts and Expenditures due February 2, 2004

 

             Minnesota Chiropractic Political Action Committee: $100

 

·         Annual Report of Lobbyist Principal due March 15, 2004

 

       Minnesota Pharmacists Association:  $20

       Virginia Firefighters Local 390:  $100

 

·          Payment of Principal Fee due March 15, 2004

 

Motorola:  $100

 

Payment of Civil Penalties

 

·         Payment of Principal Fee due March 15, 2004

 

       Let Minnesota Vote:  $100

       Motorola:  $100

 

·         Annual Report of Lobbyist Principal due March 15, 2004

 

       Let Minnesota Vote:  $100

       Virginia Firefighter Local 390:  $100

 

Anonymous Contribution for deposit in General Fund of State Elections Campaign Fund

 

       (Timothy Tingelstad) Citizens for Truth and Light:  $40

 

Financial statement and agency deposits - Mr. Sigurdson submitted a report covering July 2004.

 

Annual Report July 1, 2003, through June 30, 2004 – Board members reviewed a draft  of the Annual Report for fiscal year 2004.

 

Mr. Miller's MOTION:            To approve the Annual Report for fiscal year 2004 as drafted.

 

Vote on MOTION:            Unanimously passed.

 

LEGAL COUNSEL'S REPORT

 

Board members reviewed the memo from Counsel Huwe updating the Board on legal issues and the report outlining the status of cases that have been turned over to the Attorney General's office (see copy of memo attached.) 

 

OTHER BUSINESS

 

Libertarian Party of Minnesota – Staff reported that from 1996 through 2000 the Libertarian Party of Minnesota qualified as a minor party and was eligible to receive funds from the state income and property tax check-off program.  Money allocated to state parties under this program must be kept in a separate bank account and may only be spent on multi-candidate political party expenditures. 

 

In 2000 the Libertarian Party lost minor party status and became a political committee and may no longer make multi-candidate political party expenditures.  The balance in the Libertarian party multi-candidate political party expenditure account is $6,758.  At some point in 2004 the party became aware that the $6,758 had apparently been embezzled by Jill Wilkinson, former treasurer, along with an additional $3,300 in committee funds.  Ron Helwig, chair of the party, contacted Board staff and stated that a criminal complaint has been filed in the matter. 

 

Board members directed staff to inform Mr. Helwig that: 1) the embezzlement should be shown on the committee's pre-primary report using the best information available to him at the time the report is submitted and if itemization of the committee's receipts and expenditures during 2004 cannot be obtained from the former treasurer in a timely manner the committee may use the total receipts and expenditures available from bank records until detailed records can be obtained; 2) if necessary, make amendments to the report as additional information becomes available; and 3) the restitution of the $6,758 from the state party account is the responsibility of Ms. Wilkinson not the committee.

 

REPORT FROM EXECUTIVE SESSION

 

In the matter of the investigation regarding the Friends of Marc Kimball committee

The Board issued findings showing that there is probable cause to believe that the Friends of Marc Kimball committee violated Minn. Stat. §10A.273, subd. 1 (a), by accepting a contribution from a registered lobbyist during the regular session of the legislature in 2004 and imposed a civil fine of $25.  The Board ordered that the findings and the record of the investigation be made a part of the public records of the Board (see copy of findings attached).

 

In the matter of the investigation regarding Stephanie L. Frost, lobbyist – The Board issued findings showing that there is probable cause to believe that Stephanie L. Frost violated Minn. Stat. §10A.273, subd. 1 (b), by making a contribution to a principal campaign committee during the regular session of the legislature in 2004 and imposed a civil fine of $25.  The Board ordered that the findings and the record of the investigation be made a part of the public records of the Board (see copy of findings attached).

 

Request for Board Direction in the Matter of a Discrepancy in Contribution Refunds through the Political Contribution Refund Program – The Board directed staff to draft a letter for signature by Chair Fluegel to Alan Weinblatt, legal counsel to the Minnesota DFL State Central Committee, informing Mr. Weinblatt that the Board does not question the state party's ability to transfer party funds to a federal account.  However, the Board believes that under Minnesota law only contributions given to, accounted for and reported by a state political committee on its Report of Receipts and Expenditures can qualify for a political contribution refund.  As issues under state tax code fall outside the Board's jurisdiction, the Board voted to notify the Commissioner of Revenue that refunded contributions may not have been deposited and accounted for through the state party organization, so the Department of Revenue may act on the matter as may be appropriate.  

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

Meeting adjourned.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

Jeanne Olson

Executive Director

 

 

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