Kelliher and DFL Party fined $24,000 for fundraising flap

The Campaign Finance Board said Kelliher’s campaign violated the prohibition on soliciting and accepting earmarked contributions. It also said the DFL Party violated the prohibition on accepting earmarked contributions. Kelliher is required to pay a fine of $9,000. The DFL Party was fined $15,000. The ruling comes one day after the board met behind closed doors to discuss a GOP complaint against Kelliher.

In November, Kelliher said her campaign made an error by directing donors to give to the DFL Party to help pay for her use of a voter database. Kelliher said she was acting on advice from a DFL Party official who later said the process is illegal. The DFL returned donations to three donors. Kelliher and the DFL Party notified the Campaign Finance Board of the error.

UPDATE: Kelliher just told me she paid the fine:

“We’ve corrected everything that we could do to correct that mistake and we obviously knew that we were going to face a consequence by the Campaign Finance Board. I accept that consequence. We’ve paid our fine and we made sure there was a new system in place so we don’t have anything like this happen again.”

You can read the full ruling here.

Update: Democrat Matt Entenza issued this statement through his spokeswoman:

“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. DFLers are supposed to stand up against special interests – certainly Matt Entenza has been doing that his entire career in public service. In this case, the DFL clearly favored one candidate over nine others – all of whom have given years of service to the Party. The Party leadership still has a lot of explaining to do to those candidates who have not been privy to their sweetheart treatment.”

Update: Here’s a statement from DFL Party Chair Brian Melendez:

“The DFL Party receives the Campaign Finance Board’s ruling today in the same spirit in which we have approached this entire matter: with acknowledgment of the mistake, a desire to rectify that mistake, and willingness to accept the consequences. We appreciate the Board’s acknowledgment that the Party cooperated fully in the Board’s investigation, and that ‘a violation … may occur even if the participants believed that their course of conduct as permitted’ under the law, as was the case here. We also appreciate the expeditious manner in which the Board investigated and ruled on this matter, so that this inadvertent error will not distract voters from the important task of choosing a governor who will address the enormous challenges that Minnesota and its citizens are facing.”

Update: Here’s Kelliher’s statement:

“Our campaign accepts the board’s findings, and we have paid the fine.

“I have made certain that our campaign has systems in place that make sure no mistake like this will happen again.”

Update: Here’s MNGOP Chair Tony Sutton’s statement:

“Today’s ruling vindicates our belief that Margaret Anderson Kelliher deliberately circumvented Minnesota’s campaign finance laws to benefit her campaign for governor. 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. These sort of schemes demonstrate Kelliher does not have the judgment to lead our great state.”

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