STATE OF MINNESOTA

CAMPAIGN FINANCE AND PUBLIC DISCLOSURE BOARD

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Friday, August 28, 1998

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Ladyslipper Conference Room

Ground Floor, Centennial Office Building

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MINUTES

 

Meeting was called to order by Chair Rodriguez.

 

Members present: Fluegel, Pauly, Rodriguez, Slocum, Wilson.

Others present: Olson, Goldsmith, Swanson, staff: Gretz, counsel.

 

MINUTES (July 24 and August 5, 1998)

 

Ms. Pauly's MOTION: To approve the July 24 and August 5, 1998, minutes as drafted.

 

Vote on MOTION: Unanimously passed.

 

CHAIR'S REPORT

 

Board Meeting Schedule

 

Next meeting will be on September 25, 1998. The Board retreat will follow the Board meeting.

 

Ms. Pauly told Board members that she will be unable to attend the scheduled October and November meetings. Board members agreed to cancel the November meeting and hold a meeting on December 11, 1998.

 

Achievement Award Policy

 

The Managerial Plan for July 1, 1997, through June 30, 1999, requires that each appointing authority develop a policy for the administration of performance-based awards for managers covered by the plan.

 

The Board reviewed a draft policy.

 

Ms. Pauly's MOTION: To approve the Achievement Award Policy Plan as drafted.

 

Vote on MOTION: Unanimously passed (see copy of policy attached).

 

Workplace Violence Prevention Policy and Plan

The Board reviewed a draft of the annual update of the Workplace Violence Prevention Policy and Plan.

 

Ms. Pauly's MOTION: To approve the Workplace Violence Prevention Policy and Plan as drafted.

 

Vote on MOTION: Unanimously passed.

 

Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL)

 

Mr. Slocum informed the Board that he will be unable to attend the COGEL conference. Based on previous Board action, Ms. Wilson was offered the opportunity to attend the conference.

 

Correspondence

 

Copies of a letter to Lee Sheehy, Chief Deputy Attorney General, from Chair Rodriguez regarding the request for independent legal counsel in the matter of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community's lawsuit against the Board and Mr. Sheehy's response to Chair Rodriguez were available for Board members.

 

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S REPORT

 

Ms. Olson reported the following:

 

Staff activities:

 

Public Outreach

 

July 29 - Ms. Olson met with Representative Wejcman, employees of the Department of Revenue, and a representative of the Progressive Party of Minnesota. The Progressive Party has questions about their contributor's ability to have their contributions refunded. The Progressive Party currently does not meet the requirements to participate in the Political Contribution Refund Program.

 

August 1 - Mr. Goldsmith was on the faculty of a continuing legal education seminar about judicial candidates' campaign financing and reporting requirements.

 

August 3 - Ms. Olson was the guest speaker at a meeting of the Bloomington Chapter of the League of Women Voters.

 

Ms. Errico and Ms. Perreault are offering training sessions to assist clients in filling out the pre-primary reporting forms. The forms were changed for consistency with the reports that will be filed by committees and funds using Board provided software.

Ms. Olson attended a meeting of the Senate Election Law Committee. The committee heard testimony about and discussed increased lobbyist disclosure and penalties.

 

Ms. Olson continues to meet with legislative staff about a proposal for recodification of Chapter 10A.

 

User identification information and passwords have been requested by 101 principal campaign committees and 64 political committees and political funds that have indicated their intent to use the Campaign Finance Management System software. Mr. Goldsmith continues to offer training to assist clients in using the software.

 

Miscellaneous:

 

The Department of Employee Relations approved the Board's retreat plans for the afternoon of September 25th following the Board meeting.

 

Copies of the following correspondence were provided to Board members:

 

 

The Board directed staff to prepare a reply to the letter from Mr. Cooper for signature by Vice Chair Pauly due to the absence of Chair Rodriguez (see copy of letter attached).

 

Enforcement Report

 

Mr. Goldsmith presented the following enforcement matters for Board action:

 

Consent Items

 

Board Action: Authorization of third letter, to be sent by certified mail, to compel the termination of an inactive committee and to authorize subsequent legal enforcement action if the committee is not terminated. Two notices have previously been sent to each client. Staff has attempted to contact the clients by telephone.

Steven Read, candidate, (Steven) Read for State Senate Committee Donald Sprandel, candidate, Donald Sprandel Volunteer Committee

Jim Gustafson, candidate, Jim Gustafson Volunteer Committee

Norman Jensvold, treasurer, Minn. Gun Owners Political Victory Fund

 

John Wilhelm, treasurer, Hotel Employees International Union TIP Education Fund

 

Richard Lewis, treasurer, St. Cloud State YDFL

 

Board Action: Authorization of third letter, to be sent by certified mail, to compel the filing of a required amendment to the committee's Registration and Statement of Organization and to authorize subsequent legal enforcement action if the amendment is not filed. An amendment letter and one subsequent notice have previously been sent to the client. Staff has attempted to contact the client by telephone.

 

Loren Schwinghammer, candidate, (Loren) Schwinghammer Volunteer Committee

Board Action: Authorization of a third certified letter, as appropriate, to compel the filing of Statement of Economic Interest for Candidates for Elective Office, due 14 days after filing for office, and subsequent legal action if the statements are not filed. A reminder letter and two certified letters have been sent to the clients.

 

Board Action: Authorization for inactive committees to maintain active status.

Thomas Conner, treasurer, People in Construction Political Action Committee, extend active status until December 31, 1998

Nick Petrangelo, treasurer, City of Duluth Supervisory Association, extend active status until December 31, 1998

 

Board Action: Authorization of certified letter for nonpayment of late filing fee and subsequent legal enforcement action in the event the fee is not paid. Two notices have been previously sent to the client.

 

 

Robert Burton, treasurer, Connie Heisenfelt for House Committee: $95

 

Michael Burns, Representing Hennepin County Board of Commissioners: $100

 

Mr. Fluegel's MOTION: To authorize the actions specified in the consent matters.

 

Vote on MOTION: Unanimously passed.

 

Discussion Item

 

Wavier Request

 

 

Chair Rodriguez welcomed Mr. Cain to the meeting. Mr. Cain stated that he had a copy of the report in his file and therefore assumed that a copy was mailed to the Board. He is requesting that the late filing fee be waived.

 

Mr. Slocum's MOTION: To approve Mr. Cain's request to waive the $100 late filing fee.

 

Vote on MOTION: Yes - Slocum, Pauly

No - Rodriguez, Fluegel

Motion failed: 2 to 2 (Wilson absent).

 

Ms. Pauly's MOTION: To reduce Mr. Cain's $100 late filing fee to $50

 

Vote on MOTION: Unanimously passed.

 

Informational Items

 

Payment of Late Filing Fees

 

C. Scott Cooper, Representing Gay & Lesbian Community Action Council: $80

Ann De Groot, Representing Out Front Minnesota: $35

Jual Carlson, Representing Jual Carlson: $10

 

 

Samlong Inthaly-Smith, Board of Social Work: $100

 

Nancy Larson, (Nancy) Larson for State Auditor: $35

 

Payment of Civil Fine

 

 

Anonymous Contributions

 

 

Revenue Recapture

 

 

Minnesota Collection Enterprise (MCE)

 

 

All payments of late filing fees and civil fines have been deposited in the general fund of the state pursuant to statute. The anonymous contributions have been deposited in the general account of the state elections campaign fund pursuant to statute.

 

Financial statement and agency deposits - Ms. Olson submitted a report covering July 1 through July 31, 1998.

 

ADVISORY OPINION REQUESTS

 

Request for the following advisory opinion is nonpublic data.

 

Advisory Opinion #301 - Registration of Political Fund

 

The Board reviewed a draft response to an advisory opinion request from members of an association who ask if the association is required to register with the Board as a political committee or political fund based on the activities described in the facts

 

Mr. Fluegel's MOTION: To approve Advisory Opinion #301 as drafted.

 

Vote on MOTION: Unanimously passed.

 

SUMMARY: ADVISORY OPINION #301 signed by Chair Carolyn Rodriguez, August 28, 1998: An association which is not a political committee under Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 10A, must establish and register a political fund with the Board within 14 days after it raises or spends more than $100 to influence the nomination or election of candidates.

 

Request for the following advisory opinions are public data.

 

Advisory Opinion #302 - Official Party Sample Ballot

 

The Board reviewed a draft response to an advisory opinion request from Alan W. Weinblatt, attorney and representative of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party who asks: 1) if a major political party, as defined in Minnesota Statutes Chapter 10A, may prepare, display, mail or otherwise distribute more than one official party sample ballot; 2) does the four page document provided to the Board qualify as a sample ballot; and 3) what may be included in a document which constitutes the party's official sample ballot under Minn. Stat. 10A.275, subd. 1(b).

 

Chair Rodriguez welcome Mr. Weinblatt to the meeting. Mr. Weinblatt questioned the term "sample ballot". He further questioned if a sample ballot would lose its character because it has other information attached, and if so is there a line at which it loses its character. Mr. Weinblatt provided sample ballots from other party units to Board members.

 

Mr. Weinblatt suggested that the Board give direction to the parties on how to report the allocation of a sample ballot. Mr. Weinblatt introduced Kathy Czar, Executive Director, Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. Ms. Czar asked the Board how the committee would allocate the cost of the distributing the sample ballot. The Board referred Ms. Czar to the Advisory Opinion.

 

Mr. Fluegel's MOTION: To approve Advisory Opinion #302 as drafted.

 

Vote on MOTION: Unanimously passed.

 

SUMMARY: ADVISORY OPINION #302 signed by Chair Carolyn Rodriguez, August 28, 1998: A party may publish its official sample ballot under Minn. Stat. 10A.275, subd. 1(b), in multiple versions and may distribute or publish the ballot multiple times. The sample ballot itself is limited to a ballot-like representation which may include only minimal additional information.

 

Advisory Opinion #303 - Special Source Contribution Limit

 

The Board reviewed a draft response to an advisory opinion request from Alan W. Weinblatt, attorney and representative of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party ("DFL") and a number of DFL candidates, who asks if Minn. Stat. 10A.25, subd. 11, which limits contributions from lobbyists, political committees or political funds, and large givers is increased for a candidate who is entitled to an increase in the candidate's campaign expenditure limit based on first time candidacy or a closely contested primary.

 

Mr. Weinblatt noted that the legislature has seen fit to raise the expenditure limit for first time candidates and candidates with contested primaries. He said it would seem to logical that the limit of contributions from special sources be increased based on the new expenditure limit of the candidate.

 

Mr. Fluegel's MOTION: To approve Advisory Opinion #303 as drafted.

 

Vote on MOTION: Unanimously passed.

 

SUMMARY: ADVISORY OPINION #303 signed by Chair Carolyn Rodriguez, August 28, 1998:

The limit on contributions from lobbyists, political committees, political funds, and large givers is based on the campaign expenditure limit for the office sought by the candidate before any adjustments resulting from an individual candidate's status.

 

LEGAL COUNSEL'S REPORT

 

Board members reviewed a memo from Counsel Gretz outlining the status of cases which have been turned over to the Attorney General's office (see copies of memos attached).

 

Tribal Sovereignty (see April 24th, May 4th, June 26th, and July 24th minutes)

 

 

 

Ms. Pauly's MOTION: To postpone further action to the September 25th meeting.

 

Vote on MOTION: Unanimously passed.

 

OTHER BUSINESS

 

Mr. Goldsmith stated that staff has many ongoing inquiries to other tribes with registered funds and has received requests from several of them to defer any action until the court rules on the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux matter.

 

Chair Rodriguez asked if the funds of these tribes have agreed to abide by the court ruling. Mr. Goldsmith said the tribal funds have been advised that they make contributions at their own risk.

 

Ms. Wilson's MOTION: To direct staff to defer any action on pending inquiries into matters involving tribes with registered funds until the court rules on the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux case.

 

Vote on MOTION: Unanimously passed.

 

REPORT FROM EXECUTIVE SESSION

 

Findings in the Matter of the Complaint of Minnesota State Democratic Central Committee (DFL) Regarding the Minnesota Republican Campaign Committee (Caucus)

 

The Board issued findings of no probable cause to believe that any service provided by Whitney Management, Inc. to the Caucus exceeded $20 in fair market value so as to result in a recordable donation to the Caucus. 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).

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

Meeting adjourned.

 

Respectfully submitted,

  

Wil Fluegel, Secretary

(Minutes by staff)

  attachments (4)

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA
CAMPAIGN FINANCE AND PUBLIC DISCLOSURE BOARD

 

IN THE MATTER OF A COMPLAINT REGARDING
THE HOUSE REPUBLICAN CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE

 

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

 

On July 28, 1998, Dick Senese, State Chair, Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, ("the Complainant") filed a complaint with the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board ("the Board") alleging that the House Republican Campaign Committee ("the Caucus") violated certain provisions of Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 10A.

 

The Complainant alleges that during election year 1996, services were performed for the Caucus by Whitney Management, Inc.("the Corporation") between September 18, 1996, and November 1996. The Complainant alleges that these services consisted of use of the Corporation's office space, and telephone and staff services for the purpose of soliciting and receiving contributions on behalf of the Caucus, and that these services resulted in a reportable donation in kind from the Corporation. The Complainant further alleges that the Caucus failed to disclose or itemize this in kind donation on its Report of Receipts and Expenditures for the period covering January 1 through December 31, 1996.

 

The evidence submitted by the Complainant consists of copies of a solicitation letter dated September 18, 1996, domestic corporation records for the Corporation, and the Registration and Statement of Organization for the House Republican Campaign Committee.

 

The Caucus was notified of the allegations and responded by letter from Representative Steve Sviggum, Chair of the Caucus, on August 10, 1998.

 

The response states that in 1996 the Caucus contracted with Rick Nelson to organize a breakfast and to contact potential contributors. It also states that the personalized letters used to solicit donations and the thank you cards sent to the contributors were created in the Caucus's campaign office; using materials that belong to the Caucus. Additionally, information provides that some contribution checks were delivered to Mr. Nelson, some were sent directly to the Caucus's campaign office, and some were given to Representative Sviggum at the breakfast.

 

It is acknowledged in the response that about 20 contributors sent their replies and checks to Mr. Whitney at the Corporation's office. Those replies were opened over a period of several weeks and mailed in two batches to the Caucus. Representative Sviggum states that the allegations, even if true, would not give rise to any reportable in kind contribution because the value of any such contribution was de minimus. The response further states that the Caucus's campaign staff prepared and mailed all correspondence involving the breakfast, and logged and deposited the collected funds using the Caucus's office equipment and supplies.

 

On August 27, 1998, the Complainant submitted a letter reaffirming his belief that the Caucus failed to disclose or itemize an contribution in kind from the Corporation on its Report of Receipts and Expenditures covering January 1 through December 31, 1996.

 

This matter was considered by the Board in executive session on August 28, 1998. Neither of the parties presented testimony. The matter was considered based on the complaint, the response, and documents provided by both parties.

 

 

Based on the record before it, the Board issues the following:

 

STATEMENT OF THE EVIDENCE

 

1. The House Republican Campaign Committee ("the Caucus") is a political party committee registered with the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.

 

2. During election year 1996, the Caucus contracted with Rick Nelson to organize a breakfast and to contact potential donors.

 

3. The Caucus prepared and mailed letters to prospective donors for the purpose of soliciting contributions. One of the signers of this letter was Wheelock Whitney, of Whitney Management, Inc. ("the Corporation").

 

4. All of the correspondence used for the breakfast was prepared for by the Caucus at their campaign office, using their office equipment and staff.

 

5. About 20 donations were sent to Mr. Whitney at the Corporation office. The donation checks were then forwarded to the Caucus in two batches.

 

6. The Caucus placed a de minimus value on the Corporation's services of receiving and opening 20 replies and forwarding them in two batches to the Caucus.

 

7. The Report of Receipts and Expenditures covering January 1 through December 31, 1996, filed by the Caucus did not disclose an in kind donation from the Corporation.

 

 

Based on the above Statement of the Evidence, the Board makes the following:

 

FINDING CONCERNING PROBABLE CAUSE

 

1. Minn. Stat. 10A.13, subd. 1, requires that a political committee keep an account of the name and address of each source of a donation in kind valued in excess of $20, together with the date and amount of each donation.

 

2. Minn. Stat. 10A.20, subd. 3, requires itemization of each source of donations (cash/in kind) in excess of $100. Aggregate donations from one source valued at $100 or less are listed in the non-itemized totals.

 

3. There is reason to believe that the Corporation provided services to the Caucus several times, each consisting of the opening of from one to several pieces of mail. There is also reason to believe that the Corporation provided services by packaging and forwarding two packets of contributions to the Caucus.

 

4. The provision of these services did not occur on an ongoing or regular basis and was, at most, incidental. The Corporations offices were not generally available to the Caucus and the Caucus did not conduct its regular business from the Corporation's offices.

 

5. The mere fact that the U.S. postal service was allowed to deliver a limited number of Caucus contributions to the Corporation's offices does not have a reportable value for Minnesota Statutes Chapter 10A purposes. If the case were otherwise, many treasurers and candidates would be required to report donations to their respective committees for the use of their homes and mailboxes for receipt of committee mail.

 

6. There is no probable cause to believe that any service provided by the Corporation to the Caucus exceeded $20 in fair market value so as to result in a recordable donation to the Caucus.

 

7. There is no probable cause to believe that a reporting violation of Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 10A exists.

 

 

Based on the above Finding Concerning Probable Cause, the Board issues the following:

 

ORDER

 

The complaint of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party regarding House Republican Campaign Committee is dismissed in all respects. The record in this matter and all correspondence is hereby entered into the public record in accordance with Minn. Stat. 10A.02, subd. 11.

 

 

Copies of this document shall be provided to the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and to House Republican Campaign Committee.

Dated: August 28, 1998

Carolyn D. Rodriguez, chair
Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board

 

For a copy of the other attachments, please contact the Board office.