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DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: 2013 Minnesota Statutes, "Chapter 10A. Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure"

Campaign finance requirements

If a candidate anticipates receiving more than $750 from supporters or intends to receive public money, he or she must form a campaign committee. All campaign financial transactions must be made through the committee. The candidate can neither accept contributions nor make expenditures for the campaign outside of the committee.[1]

The committee must have a chair and a treasurer, each of whom is chosen by the candidate. The candidate may, at his or her discretion, serve as the committee chair and/or treasurer. The treasurer is the key financial agent in the committee and is responsible for keeping records, reconciling the campaign's books, and meeting reporting requirements. The committee must keep a separate bank account, over which the treasurer must have signing authority. Any contributions must be deposited into this account within 10 business days of receipt.[1]

The campaign committee must register with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. This registration includes basic information, such as the names and addresses of the candidate, the committee, the committee's officers, and the committee's bank account. The registration must be signed by the candidate or the treasurer and submitted (in person, or by mail, fax or email) to the board within 14 days after receiving more than $750 in contributions or making more than $750 in expenditures.[1]

Reporting requirements

Campaign committees are required to file regular campaign finance disclosure reports with the Campaign Finance and Disclosure Board. Each report covers the time period from the beginning of the year to the date of the report. The beginning balance on every report is always the ending balance from the last report. Reports must be filed every year until the committee closes, even if the committee does not collect or spend any money during the year. Reports must be filed electronically (the board can make exceptions if the committee demonstrates that it has a good reason for not filing electronically). The board offers free software for record keeping and reporting purposes, which can be downloaded here. Using the provided software, committees can automatically generate their reports based on the receipts and expenditures they enter.[1]

For reporting purposes, contribution and expenditure amounts are the total of all contributions received from the same donor or expenditures made to the same vendor or supplier. Contributions from donors who each give $200 or less (including both cash and in-kind contributions) do not need to be itemized, but should be reported as aggregate totals. Contributions from one donor of more than $200 must be reported individually. The donor's name, address, and employer or occupation must be noted, as well as the date and amount of the contribution. For vendors or suppliers to whom expenditures of $200 or less are made, the total amount should be reported (itemization is not necessary). For vendors or suppliers to whom expenditures of more than $200 are made, the vendor's name and address must be noted along with expenditure details (date and amount of payment, and a description of the item or service purchased).[1]

A committee cannot stop operating until it has $100 or less in cash and property and has submitted a termination report to the board. A committee can terminate its registration with the board even if it has unpaid debts, though the committee, candidate, or officers will remain liable for the unpaid debts.[1]

In an election year, candidates for state legislative office are required to file three separate reports with the board.[2]

In an election year, candidates for constitutional office (e.g., governor, secretary of state, etc.) must file six separate reports with the board.[3]

In a non-election year, a candidate is only required to file one report for the entire year, due on January 31 of the following year.[1]

For certain transactions that occur between the last pre-primary or pre-general report and the date of the election, special notice must be made to the board. The notice is due within 24 hours if the committee files electronically or by the next business day if the committee files in person.[1]

Contribution limits

Contribution limits are applied to election and non-election segments. Election segments are two-year periods that end on December 31 of an election year. Any other two-year period is called a non-election segment. Contribution limits are higher in an election segment than they are in a non-election segment. For an office with a four-year term, the non-election segment and the election segment together make up the election cycle for that office. Contribution limits also vary according to the type of donor and the type of contributor. Contribution limits apply both to one-time contributions and to the total amount given by one person or group over the course of each two-year segment.[1]

The table below summarizes the contribution limits that apply to individuals, political committees and funds. The uppermost row indicates the type of election segment, while the leftmost column indicates the contribution recipient.[1][4][5]

Individual, political committee and fund contribution limits in Minnesota
Election segment Non-election segment
Governor and Lieutenant Governor $4,000 $2,000
Attorney General $2,500 $1,500
Secretary of State
Auditor
$2,000 $1,000
State Senate $1,000 $1,000
State House $1,000 N/A
On May 19, 2014, United States District Court Judge Donovan W. Frank struck down a campaign finance provision prohibiting candidates from receiving large contributions after having already received a certain number of large contributions. For example, under the law in question, the first 12 donors to a state legislative candidate could contribute up to $1,000, but subsequent donors could only contribute a maximum of $500. With Frank's ruling, this prohibition no longer applies.[6][7]