Posted at 3:02 PM on September 15, 2009
by Tom Scheck
GOP state Rep. Tom Emmer of Delano agreed to pay $750 to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board after the board found that the owner of a sign company put up billboards on Emmer's behalf during the last two election cycles. The board found that it could have been a campaign finance violation after the owner of the company said it discussed the matter with Emmer's campaign manager in 2006. Campaign Finance Board executive director Gary Goldsmith said Emmer agreed to pay the penalty but is not admitting any wrongdoing.
"If you look at the conciliation agreement, you'll see that the Emmer Committee has agreed to notify its staff members of the conditions under which an inadvertent conversation in which an independent expenditure could become a contribution without even knowing it happened."
Emmer, who is a candidate for governor, said he's paying the fine because "he has a campaign to run." He said he never saw the signs. He also said his campaign manager didn't recall having a conversation about the signs let alone directed the sign be put up. Emmer said he disagrees with the board's findings but is moving on from the issue.
"Rather than getting caught up in a protracted battle, I agreed to a compromised settlement with no admission of liability because obviously I dispute the findings if there be a violation. But with the small amount that they're talking about it's better to put it behind us."
Emmer said he also hoped that the Legislature can address this issue so candidates are not held responsible for minor conversations that their campaign staff or volunteers have on their behalf.
Meanwhile, GOP state Sen. David Hann's campaign agreed to pay a penalty for accepting more than the maximum allowed from a registered lobbyist and a political committee. Hann is also running for governor.
The Campaign Finance Board also ordered a group called Progressive Majority to pay $1,025 for making payments to the DFL Party and Women Winning Minnesota without filing the proper paperwork.