Minnesota board releases guidelines for ballot measure donor disclosure

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October 6, 2011

By Bailey Ludlam

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ST. PAUL, Minnesota: Questions about Minnesota's campaign finance disclosure were further clarified this week with the approval and release of a "statement of guidance" which defines what constitutes a contribution, among other details.

Earlier this year, questions were raised following the certification of a Minnesota Same-Sex Marriage Amendment for the upcoming November 2012 ballot. The questions centered around a state law that allows for corporations to donate to ballot measure campaigns.

Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board ruled on June 30 that corporations that donate to ballot measure campaigns must disclose the names of large donors. Corporations that donate at least $5,000 to a campaign are required to release the names of those who contributed $1,000 or more.[1]

On October 4 the board approved definitions and guidance in support of the June decision.[2] The statement of guidance details how a ballot measure donation to an outside group should be disclosed and defines what constitutes a contribution, general donation and political fund.[3]

The complete "statement of guidance" can be read here.

The first financial reports for the proposed marriage amendment are due at the end of January 2012.

In response to the "statement of guidance" Minnesota for Marriage chairman John Helmberger said, "Minnesota for Marriage will disclose all donations we receive, as well as all expenditures that we make, consistent with longstanding Minnesota law. However, what [campaign finance board] bureaucrats are attempting to do goes well beyond what the law requires, substituting themselves for the Legislature in an illegal attempt to compel disclosure of information not required by law. We oppose such illegal regulations."[4]

National organization, the National Organization for Marriage said, "The CFB cannot illegally force us to report information the law does not require."[4]

Both organizations support the marriage amendment which calls for banning same-sex marriage.

Proponents of the change, like Common Cause Minnesota (dead link), previously argued that ballot initiative campaigns can affect broader political campaigns and that the public has a "right to know" the funding sources of political speech.[5]

See also

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