Sviggum admits violating campaign finance laws

Senate Republican caucus spokesman Steve Sviggum acknowledged today that Republicans should not have used public money to print a pamphlet they distributed at GOP precinct caucuses last week.

The apology came shortly after state DFL Party officials said they would file a campaign finance complaint over the pamphlets because they sent people to the Senate Republican website, which asks for donations to GOP senate campaigns.

Fifteen Republican senators handed out the pamphlets that touted their 2012 legislative agenda, thanked people for attending cacucuses and directed them to website. Sviggum admits he made a mistake.

“I take responsibility for that being there,” he said. “It is not a responsibility for any of the senators or any of the staff other than myself.”

Sviggum said he’ll reimburse the state for the cost of the printing.

The DFL filed its complaint with the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board Office of Administrative Hearings against 12 Republican senators. A spokeswoman said they’ll amend the complaint if they find additional violations. DFL Party Chair Ken Martin told reporters that the senators in question and the Senate Republican Caucus should be penalized.

“At the end if the day we feel that they clearly crossed the line here,” Martin said. “They didn’t just go up to the line, they crossed the line and turned the literature they produced at taxpayer expense into campaign literature.”

Yesterday Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said the Republican Senate counsel had seen the pamphlet before it went out and approved it. Senjem said he considered it the same kind of literature senators would send to constituents.

State law prohibits taxpayer money from being used for campaigning.

Here’s the complaint filed by the DFL Party:

Complaint Against MNSRC Regarding GOP Senate Update

  • Jamie

    Your front page headline calls this a “mistake.” Journalists shouldn’t be making that value judgment.