Minnesota’s Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board has leveled fines totaling $20,000 against a state legislator and his campaign committee.
In a ruling issued Tuesday, the board said Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul, and his committee made a series of improper money transfers between 2010 and 2013 and failed to keep adequate records. Nearly $11,000 in campaign contributions ended up in Lesch’s personal accounts. He has repaid just over $2,000.
“In most cases, the Committee funds transferred into Rep. Lesch’s personal account were used for payments by Rep. Lesch for which there would have been insufficient funds without the deposit of the Committee funds,” the ruling states.
The board wants the fines paid within 30 days.
“If Rep. Lesch or the John Lesch for State Representative committee does not comply with the provisions of this order, the board’s executive director may request that the attorney general bring an action on behalf of the board,” according to the ruling.
Lesch issued a statement saying he worked with the board for more than three years to try to resolve the matter. He acknowledged the inadequate record keeping, but disputed the other findings.
“The board’s conclusion that funds were converted to personal use is unfounded,” Lesch said. “It remains based solely on the absence of receipts. I deny using any campaign funds for personal purposes.”
Lesch, a lawyer who also is running for Minnesota attorney general, said he is currently involved in a jury trial and will make no further comment on the matter.