An Administrative law judge dismissed a complaint against Independence Party candidate Tom Horner. The GOP alleged that Horner received a corporate contribution because a pollster provided him with information before it was made public. The judge ruled that pollster Bill Morris, who is supporting Horner, provided the information to the Pioneer Press first.
Here’s a portion of the order by Judge Manuel Cervantes:
The Administrative Law Judge concludes that the Complainant has failed to establish probable cause to believe DRL provided Mr. Horner and his campaign committee with a prohibited corporate contribution when it gave Mr. Horner and his committee polling data that it had already provided to the Pioneer Press. As of June 7, 2010, the date Mr. Horner received the data, the polling data was public and available upon request. In fact, it is undisputed that DRL provided the poll results to Margaret Anderson Kelliher’s campaign as well as to the Star Tribune, Associated Press, and MinnPost on June 8, 2010. Because the polling data was public and free of charge to anyone upon request, it had no monetary value by the time it was provided to Mr. Horner and it cannot form the basis of a Minn. Stat. § 211B.13 or § 211B.15 complaint.
Horner’s campaign manager, Stephen Imholte, issued a statement slamming the GOP for filing the complaint in the first place:
“The judge’s ruling today confirms that the complaint made by the Republican Party of Minnesota was bogus. This was nothing more than the GOP trying to cover up polling data showing their candidate had peaked and is now collapsing. What a colossal waste of everyone’s time, taxpayers’dollars and of the Republican Party’s own contributor’s money.”
MNGOP Chair Tony Sutton said the party will appeal the ruling:
“The Republican Party of Minnesota will appeal today’s decision from the Office of Administrative Hearings. By failing to hold Tom Horner accountable for his acceptance of what we believe is clearly an illegal corporate contribution, Judge Cervantes has created a loop hole the size of Lake Superior which will lead to a wild west situation in which anything goes in our state’s elections. We believe Judge Cervantes has committed a ‘clear error of law,’ and we will begin immediately begin crafting our appeal this afternoon.”
The issue also neutralizes Horner’s top IP opponent, Rob Hahn’s call for Horner to quit the race. Hahn said the entire issue created credibility issues for Horner.