Tony Sutton cartoon by Avidor
by Steve Timmer
Nov 28, 2012, 3:30 PM

Tony Sutton: the gift that keeps on giving, part deux

The original story with this title was a brief description of findings made by the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board concerning the Republican Party of Minnesota and Sen. Dave Thompson. You can read the story at the link, but the findings are repeated below. John Gilmore remarked on the story in a post at Minnesota Conservatives, and in something I almost never do (respond to anybody, that is), I am going to mention a few things he wrote. First, here are the findings:

1. There is probable cause to believe that some portion of the contracted services provided by Senator Thompson in 2009 and 2010 were of benefit to the Republican State Committee.

2. There is probable cause to believe that some portion of the payments made to Senator Thompson under the terms of the 2009 and 2010 consulting contracts were reportable by the Republican State Committee but were omitted from the relevant reports in violation of Minnesota Statutes section 10A.20, subdivision 3 (g).

3. There is probable cause to believe that the candidate trainings provided by the Republican State Committee under the terms of the consulting contracts with Senator Thompson were reportable in-kind donations to the state candidate committees in attendance.

4. There is probable cause to believe that the in-kind donation of candidate trainings were not reported by the Republican State Committee in violation of Minnesota Statutes section 10A.20, subdivision 3 (k).

5. There is probable cause to believe that records do not exist that will allow the Republican Party State Committee to accurately amend its reports as provided in Minnesota Statutes section 10A.025, subdivision 4, to disclose payments to Senator Thompson for contracted services, or to report candidate training sessions as in-kind donations to the candidates in attendance.

The investigation and the findings grew out of a complaint filed by Common Cause Minnesota. Who else? says Gilmore. Well, who else, indeed, John?

Gilmore has written often intimating — or outright saying — that CCM is just a hopeless bunch of lefties! But  more than anybody, Republicans who care about the MNGOP ought to be grateful to CCM. Seriously.


Well, because of complaints filed by CCM — not Republican activists — and the subsequent investigations by the Campaign Board, there is a lot more known about the financial operation of the MNGOP under Tony Sutton’s watch than was known before. After Sutton left his post — and being the subject of grumblings for a long time prior to that — a blue ribbon panel of Republicans was chosen To Look Into Things. It issued a report on May 12, 2012. One section of the report bore this heading: Legal bills incurred by Count Them All Properly, Inc. which some allege are actually RPM obligations. Here’s a graf from the section:

As to the part of the [CFPDB] investigation connected with the 2010 recount, the Party is  vigorously contesting the allegations contained in the Common Cause complaint. No  evaluation of the likely outcome of the Board’s investigation is possible at this stage of  the investigation. The investigation is ongoing, and on the advice of our attorneys, no  further comment can be made. We will supplement information regarding this issue  when we are able.

As we know, the investigation led to the largest fine that I can remember ever levied by the Campaign Finance Board for the Party’s failure to disclose some $600,000 (in round numbers) of debt related to the Emmer recount. The Board levied a fine of $27,000 on the MNGOP, which it is paying the way you and I pay for a new washer and dryer, on the installment plan. Only when it is done, the MNGOP won’t own any appliances.

If you read the record of the case at the CFB — which is now the basis for a complaint, filed by that darn Common Cause Minnesota with the Office of Administrative Hearings, which Gilmore acknowledges — you can see what a budget buster it must have been for a small agency like the CFB.

When a cop writes a ticket, or seizes a car that is later forfeited, most of the proceeds go to the municipality that hires the cop. When the CFB fines somebody, however, the fine is paid to the treasury of the state. You’d think the Board would at least get some kind of spiff!

Returning now to the subject of the Board’s recent findings, here’s the sum total of what the committee To Look Into Things said about Thompson:

Thompson was paid a total of $70,568.56 from RPM pursuant to the above [a total of three, including two entered into after his election] contracts. He had an outstanding invoice with RPM of $7,700 as of December 2011. He has given that $7,700 to the Party as an in-kind contribution.

Nobody on the committee to Look Into Things expressed the mildest curiosity about either of these matters. Maybe, it was really the committee on Doing a Whitewash.

Gilmore also criticizes the Board for not doing more in looking into the Thompson contracts. I really don’t think there is anything more that the Board has the jurisdiction to do with respect to the Thompson contracts; that would be up to someone filing a complaint in the OAH or the matter being taken up by criminal law enforcement.

In an interesting — to me, anyway — sidelight, I called Senator Thompson after the May 2012 report was issued and asked him what he did for his consulting money. He told me to buzz off, so the CFB got a lot farther than I did.

But whatever, it was the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board who got everybody, including the people whose contributions continue to be solicited for the MNGOP, to know what they now know. And Common Cause Minnesota kicked it all off.

Update: And John, thanks for reading.

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