Tempest in a Teapot (hsdboardmember.wordpress.com).
by Steve Timmer
Jan 17, 2014, 9:00 PM

Tempest, meet Teapot

In September of 2013 (for crying out loud), the Campaign Finance Board concluded that it was improper for Governor Mark Dayton to ferry a campaign worker on his state-provided airplane in 2012, even though his campaign reimbursed the state for a pro-rata share of the expense of the trip. The CFB declined to levy a fine, saying that the violation was not intentional and that the state was made whole.

This was not, of course, nearly enough for the Minnesota Job for Ben Coalition which apparently, for lack of anything useful to do, has continued to bray about it to, including, attentive members of the press.

Now, the legislative auditor’s office — who I think is ordinarily a level-headed bunch — picks up the barking, excuse me, braying:

“Since the campaign official did not travel with the Governor to participate in state government business, it was a violation of state law and (Minnesota Department of Transportation) policy for the campaign official to travel on the state airplane,” said the report from the Minnesota legislative auditor.

That’s it, right? Off to the gallows with the whole bunch! Well, not exactly. From the same Strib story:

In the absence of clear state legislation to guide them, she [Dayton Chief of Staff Tina Smith] said the Dayton administration established a policy of repaying the state for any political travel on the state plane on a prorated basis. She said the policy was modeled after the long-used White House policy for use of Air Force One.

The legislative auditor found that Dayton’s occasional campaign use of the state plane in itself did not necessarily constitute a legal or policy violation. [But, I thought you said . . . well, never mind.]

“The state has not established a consistent standard for determining whether it is lawful for the Governor to use a state airplane to travel to political events,” the audit said. Between January 2011 and June 2013, Dayton took 55 trips on the state plane. Only the three flights in late 2012 were deemed to have political components.

The auditor recommended the Legislature clarify the law regarding the use of the plane for politics.

So, the legislative auditor’s office declares this a violation of law but then says that:

Dayton’s occasional campaign use of the state plane in itself did not necessarily constitute a legal or policy violation.

Well, then, my friends, you got a lotta damn nerve stating categorically that it was a violation of the law.

Especially since you know that the pilot of the airship Parry will take it and run with it. As in the case of the CFB findings, there is no penalty of any kind. But it will keep Ben off the street for a while, I guess, and that’s good.

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