Campaign Finance Board to investigate marriage amendment backers

The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board has agreed to investigate complaints against two groups supporting the constitutional amendment that would ban same sex marriage.

The complaints were filed by Common Cause last month, and allege Minnesota for Marriage and the Minnesota Family Council broke Minnesota’s disclosure laws. In the complaint filed against Minnesota for Marriage, Common Cause executive director Mike Dean wrote, “MFM filed a false report with the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board by not itemizing and disclosing the names of all individuals who contributed more than $100 to MFM’s campaign in support of the Marriage Amendment.”

Minnesota for Marriage listed the names of seven donors, accounting for $2,119 of the $830,105.60 it raised. Most of the money came from the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the Minnesota Family Council Marriage Protection Fund and the National Organization for Marriage, which is currently fighting to protect the identify of its donors in Maine.

In a letter to Common Cause, CFB executive director Gary Goldsmith wrote:

The Board’s undertaking of this investigation signifies only that the complaint met the minimal threshold to require an investigation. It should not be taken as an indication of what the Board’s ultimate findings will be.

Minnesota for Marriage did not immediately respond to MPR News’ request for comment. Previously, spokesman Chuck Darrell called the complaint “baseless.”

Common Cause also called for the Board to charge John Helmberger, CEO of the Minnesota Family Council and chairman of Minnesota for Marriage, with a gross misdemeanor for signing what Common Cause calls “a false report.”

Helmberger sent an email to supporters earlier this week with the subject line, “They want me in jail” and asked for financial support to defend the organization against what he called “this baseless attack.”

Helmberger told his supporters “Let me state emphatically: even though new campaign finance regulations exceed the requirements of the law and violate our Constitutional rights, I have followed them to a “T.”

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