Campaign board clears Minnesota for Marriage in donor complaint

The state’s campaign finance watchdog has cleared Minnesota for Marriage, an organization backing a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman, of a complaint that the group did not adequately disclosed its donors.

The case goes back to last February, when Common Cause-Minnesota asked the state Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board to investigate whether Minnesota for Marriage had listed all its donors on its 2011 finance report.

The Common Cause complaint centered on the fact that Minnesota for Marriage (MFM), which is a special committee set up by the Minnesota Family Council to raise and spend money in support of the marriage amendment, has a vast membership and therefore should have reported more than seven individual donors its 2011 report.

“Either MFM’s support is startlingly weak, contrary to its claims of broad-based support… or MFM violated the campaign finance laws by failing to report required contributor information or by redirecting contributors to an intermediary organization for the purpose of avoiding required disclosures,” the initial complaint argued.

The campaign finance board’s investigation involved a review of Minnesota for Marriage’s bank records, and found that the group reported all its deposits accurately.

At the same time, the board declined to investigate a second claim in the Common Cause complaint that Minnesota for Marriage was redirecting contributions to other organizations that support the amendment.

“To assert that an association’s activities do not pass ‘the smell test’ is to acknowledge that the, complainant has no actual evidence but, rather, relies on suspicion as the basis for the complaint,” the board concluded. “Suspicion alone is insufficient to compel a Board investigation.”

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