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Campaign finance requirements for Minnesota ballot measures

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Campaign finance requirements for Minnesota ballot measures are promulgated by the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. The Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board is responsible for the administrative and reporting duties of the state's campaign finance laws.

The Board maintains a disclosure database for all groups that receive contributions or make expenditures in support or opposition of a ballot question.

If someone feels a person or a committee violated Minnesota campaign finance law, the first step is to file a complaint with the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board[1]. It is up to the Board to investigate the complaint. A decision to determine probable cause must be determined within thirty (30) days of filing a complaint[2]. All other matters not in the jurisdiction of the Board would be handled by the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings. The Office of Administrative Hearings would refer the matter to a County Attorney in the county where the alleged offense happened[3].

General requirements

Political Committee designation

Any group of two or more people in support or opposition of a ballot question in Minnesota is considered to be a political committee[4][5].

Statement of Organization

A political committee must file a Statement of Organization within fourteen (14) days of making expenditures or receiving contributions of $5,000 or more in an off-election year.[6]

Campaign finance requirements

Anonymous contributions

Minnesota law bans all anonymous contributions over $20. All anonymous contributions over the threshold must be forwarded within 14 days to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board[7].

Contribution limits

There are no contribution limits for political committees in support or opposition of a ballot question[8].

Corporate/labor union contributions

In Minnesota, corporations and labor unions can donate to any campaign in support or opposition of a ballot question[9]. However, corporations are prohibited from directly contributing to a Political Action Committee, state or local party committee, or candidate/candidate committee[10]. A federal judge on May 7, 2010, ruled that corporations can contribute to candidates, political action committees, and party organizations through independent expenditures[11].

Filing reports

All political committees that plan to receive contributions or make expenditures of $750 or more must file campaign finance reports[12].

Reporting requirements and reports

Minnesota sets its reporting calendar based on when a ballot measure is placed on the ballot for election.

Initial report

Under Minnesota law, all Political Committees in support or opposition of a ballot measure must file an initial campaign finance report. This report must be filed within fourteen days of receiving $750 or more in receiving contributions or making disbursements. This is the first campaign finance report after a group is formed[13].

10 day pre-election

Minnesota requires all political committees to file campaign finance reports 10 days before a election. This is regardless whenever a ballot measure is scheduled for on the general, special, or primary election ballot[14]. The report covers all activity from the initial report up to the 10 day report.

30 day post-election

All political committees must file a post-election report thirty days after a general or a special election. Ballot questions placed on the primary ballot do not have to file a 30 day post-election report. The report covers all activity after the 10 day pre-election deadline[15].

Annual report

All political committees that filed a support or oppose a ballot question must file a annual report on January 31st of the following year after an initial report was first filed. This is a cumulative campaign finance report from when the committee first filed an initial report up to December 31st[16]. The report covers all activity from the initial report up to the 10 day report.

Campaign advertising restrictions

Under Minnesota law, all advertisements for committees in support or opposition of ballot measures must be paid at the same rate other commercial businesses are charged[17].

All political advertising in Minnesota must be denoted as "PAID ADVERTISEMENT" along with a disclaimer in the beginning or the end of the advertisment[18]. All Political Committees in support or opposition of a ballot question must have their disclaimer set as: "Prepared and paid for by the .......... committee, .........(address), in support of .........( name of ballot question)"[19].

A independent expenditure advertisement for a ballot question that is not authorized by a political committee must be denoted as that "this publication is not circulated on behalf of any committee in support/opposition to ballot question" in addition to the normal "Paid for by" disclaimer[20].

Any person who engages in false political advertising with the intent to injure a person or committee in support or opposition of a ballot measure can be charged with a gross misdeameanor[21].

Terminating a committee

Any political committee that plans to terminate after the election must file a final report. The final report is considered to be a termination report. All debts must settled along with a zero balance and assets over $100 are properly disposed of. The report covers all activity from the day after the last reporting deadline to the day when final report is submitted[22].

External links

References

  1. Minnesota Campaign Finance and Ethics Board "Political Committee/Political Fund Manual"(See Page 12, Complaints)
  2. Minnesota Revisor of Statutes "Minnesota Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 10A.02, Subdiv. 11)
  3. [Confirmed via email with MN SOS on May 7, 2010]
  4. Minnesota Campaign Finance and Ethics Board Political Committee/Political Fund Manual(See Page 1, Political Committee)
  5. Minnesota Revisor of Statutes "Minnesota Election Law"(Referenced Statute 211A.01, Subdiv. 4)
  6. Minnesota Legislature website, SF 661 2013, accessed January 26, 2014
  7. Minnesota Campaign Finance and Ethics Board "Political Committee/Political Fund Manual"(See Page 3, Anonymous Contributions)
  8. Minnesota Revisor of Statutes "Minnesota Election Law"(Referenced Statute 211A.12))
  9. Minnesota Revisor of Statutes "Minnesota Election Law"(Referenced Statute 211B.15, Subdiv. 4))
  10. Minnesota Revisor of Statutes "Minnesota Election Law"(Referenced Statute 211B.15, Subdiv. 2))
  11. Star-Tribune "Businesses get go-ahead to spend on candidates," May 7, 2010
  12. Minnesota Revisor of Statutes "Minnesota Election Law"(Referenced Statute 211A.02, Subdiv. 1(A))
  13. Minnesota Revisor of Stautes "Minnesota Election Law"(Referenced Statute 211A.02, Subdiv. 1(A))
  14. Minnesota Revisor of Stautes "Minnesota Election Law"(Referenced Statute 211A.02, Subdivs. 1(B)1 and (B)2)
  15. Minnesota Revisor of Statutes "Minnesota Election Law"(Referenced Statute 211A.02, Subdivs. 1(B)3)
  16. Minnesota Revisor of Statutes "Minnesota Election Law"(Referenced Statute 211A.02, Subdivs. 1(B))
  17. Minnesota Revisor of Statutes "Minnesota Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 211B.05, Subdiv. 2)
  18. Minnesota Revisor of Statutes "Minnesota Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 211B.05, Subdiv. 1)
  19. Minnesota Revisor of Statutes "Minnesota Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 211B.04(b))
  20. Minnesota Revisor of Statutes "Minnesota Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 211B.04(d))
  21. Minnesota Revisor of Statutes "Minnesota Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 211B.06, Subdiv. 1))
  22. Minnesota Revisor of Statutes "Minnesota Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 211A.03)