Minnesota governor candidate Margaret Anderson Kelliher was fined $9,000 and the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party $15,000 for what the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board said was an illegal collaboration.
The scheme board members said was improper involved the Kelliher campaign soliciting donations and then giving the money to the party to pay for the campaign’s use of voter lists. That allowed Kelliher to circumvent campaign donation limits, the board ruled Wednesday.
Kelliher, who lives in Minneapolis, is a DFL governor candidate and state House speaker.
"The board notes that both the Kelliher committee and the DFL were cooperative in providing information to the Board during this investigation," the ruling said. "Nonetheless, members of the DFL staff and the Kelliher committee were aware of the contribution limits and disclosure obligations … and put in place an option for donors that rendered ineffective those statutory provisions. The evidence supports a conclusion that avoidance of these provisions was the underlying purpose of the option."
Kelliher’s campaign and DFL officials admitted talking about the plan, but said that at the time they did not think they violated the law. They said they did not intend to violate the law.
"Our campaign accepts the board’s findings, and we have paid the fine," Kelliher said. "I have made certain that our campaign has systems in place that make sure no mistake like this will happen again."
The state Republican Party filed a complaint with the board.
“Today’s ruling vindicates our belief that Margaret Anderson Kelliher deliberately circumvented Minnesota’s campaign finance laws to benefit her campaign for governor," GOP Chairman Tony Sutton said. "Along with R.T. Rybak, Kelliher is now the second DFL gubernatorial candidate to have been involved in a scheme to get around Minnesota’s campaign finance laws. Kelliher and other Democrats are wrong to think they don’t have to play by the rules."
A fellow Democratic candidate also was not happy with Kelliher.
“What we have seen in the DFL’s behavior amounts to an ‘inside job,’ that’s unfair to all the other campaigns that played by the rules," Matt Entenza Campaign Communications Director Bridget Cusick said. "DFLers are supposed to stand up against special interests."
Cusick said DFL leadership "still has a lot of explaining to do to those candidates who have not been privy to their sweetheart treatment."