Ernie’s first haircut!
His campaign treasurer, Steven Nielsen, got one, too!
Actually, Ern skated (sorry for the mixed metaphor). In a decision issued today, the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board fined Nielsen $300 for falsely certifying a campaign report, saying even though Leidiger participated in the subterfuge, it was Nielsen who signed the report.
Readers will recall that Rep. Leidiger and Nielsen cooked up the idea of calling a speeding ticket a “transportation” expense on the campaign books and reimbursing ol’ Ern the $178 cost of the ticket. The story broke on the Brick City Blog.
Leidiger and Nielsen proceeded to ignore the First Rule of Holes: when you’re in one, stop digging. (Just for the record, the First Rule of Holes was NOT discovered by Tom Friedman.)
Leidiger told the Strib that he had loaned his campaign committee money, so he didn’t see what the problem was. Well, entirely apart from the illegality of the payment and the prevarication about, it turns out that Leidiger was reimbursed for the loans he made to his campaign committee.
When you start fibbing, it’s hard to stop!
And if that is not enough, ladies and gentlemen, Treasurer Nielsen wrote to the CFB and said:
Well, in hindsight, we recognize that even though we booked the expense that way on purpose to try to hide what it was, it wasn’t a good idea. So, I got a check for $178 from Ern, and I’ll put it in the bank right away. No blood, no foul right? [that’s a paraphrase, but it is in essence what he said]
It’s just too bad that Leidiger and Nielsen didn’t have their pang of conscience before the matter was discovered. This was not an act of contrition; it was an act of attempted ass covering.
I call it Ernie’s “first haircut” because a complaint was also filed with the Office of Administrative Hearings by the DFL for the illegality of the payment itself. The CFB decision only dealt with the disclosure and certification issues, stating that the legality of the payment itself was before the OAH.
Stay tuned for that.
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