Bakk questions flier expense, wants open hearing

The Senate’s top Democrat does not believe literature some Republicans handed out at the Feb. 7 precinct caucuses cost just $47.

And Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, demands that the Senate Rules Committee take up the matter.

Fifteen GOP senators planned to hand out fliers printed in the Capitol at state expense. It contained a link to donate to Republican candidates, which Democrats say violates a law that prohibits state-funded campaign material.

Senate GOP Communications Director Steve Sviggum admitted to the mistake and said it was his fault. Sviggum said the Republican Senate campaign committee will reimburse the state.

He and Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said they did not see the Web link listed on the literature.

Bakk said in a letter to Senjem that he thinks the bill should be more than $47 once staff time, materials, equipment and postage expenses are added in.

The DFL leader told reporters that his members paid about $150 each to a commercial printing shop for fliers they handed out at caucuses. That is three times as much as Senate Republicans say fliers cost for 15 senators.

Senjem said he would be happy to talk to Bakk about the issue, but he is not inclined to call a Rules Committee meeting. He said he would prefer to let a Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party complaint on the matter play out in front of a state administrative law judge.

If the judge rules against Senate Republicans, Senjem said he is ready to pay any additional costs a judge says are needed.

“We erred,” Senjem said.

Ironically, at least one senator never received the fliers from St. Paul. Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, said the envelope with the fliers sent to him was returned due to insufficient postage.

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