Republican recount fund files forms with state finance board

A fund set up by the Republican Party of Minnesota meant to assist Tom Emmer during the 2010 gubernatorial recount has officially reported its finances to the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.

Last month, the campaign finance board found that the GOP violated campaign finance law by creating the Count Them All Properly fund, which the board determined was directed by former party Chairman Tony Sutton.

As a result, the Republican Party of Minnesota was fined $26,900 and Count Them All Properly was fined $3,100. Sutton was fined $3,000.

Because the recount effort was conducted by the party, funding for it should have been disclosed, the board determined.

Reports for 2011 and 2012 were recently posted on the board’s website as a result.

There are few surprises in the documents.

More or less all of the fund’s money came in the form of a $30,000 check from Robert Cummins, an elusive but generous donor who supports conservative causes and candidates.

According to depositions taken by the board, the Cummins donation was solicited by Sutton.

Count Them All Properly spent a little more than $28,000 on legal fees and other expenses, including more than $1,000 to Dan Puhl and his firm Cardinals FEC Compliance, a firm that helps candidates and parties account for their campaign donations and expenses.

After it became clear that Emmer’s race against now Gov. Mark Dayton would end in a recount, Puhl created Count Them All Properly by his own volition, according to depositions taken by the board. He then promoted the fund to the Republican party as a discreet way of shielding donors who wanted to assist with recount costs.

“I thought this is a good opportunity for me business-wise because I can have a new client for my bookkeeping, billing,” Puhl said in his deposition. “And so I went ahead and started this corporation, because basically nobody else had and it was a business opportunity for me.”

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