DFL claims ‘brazen’ campaign finance violation by GOP Attorney General nominee Jim Schultz – Reuters

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ST. PAUL — The Democratic-Farmer-Labour Party has filed a lawsuit against Republican nominee for Attorney General Jim Schultz, claiming his campaign was illegally coordinated with an outside group that purchased more than $800,000 in television ads on three television channels. Minnesota television.

DFL party chairman Ken Martin told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday October 19 that a Schultz campaign representative was also working for an outside group banned from coordinating with the campaign in a “brazen violation and unethical” campaign finance rules.

“How can Minnesotans believe that Jim Schultz will effectively enforce Minnesota laws when he doesn’t even follow them himself?” said Martin. “This is a very serious and clear violation.”

DFL lawyer David Zoll said he expects the state’s Campaign Finance Board to make a quick decision on the matter, although a decision on any fines may come soon. after the elections. Martin and Zoll said that if the board finds a breach, the DFL will ask TV stations – including KSTP, KARE and WCCO – to stop airing the adverts, which target outgoing DFL attorney general Keith Ellison .

So far, polls have shown the contest between Schultz and Ellison to be one of the closest races statewide. With the candidates tied, the intensity of the campaign has increased in recent weeks, with each campaign reporting ethics allegations and violations of campaign rules. Martin told reporters that the DFL would have filed the complaint whether the race was close or not.

In a statement responding to the DFL’s complaint, Schultz’s campaign spokeswoman Christine Snell dismissed the DFL’s campaign funding requests as an attempt to distract from the race’s issues.

“Let’s be clear: This is nothing more than a desperate attempt by Keith Ellison and his far-left DFL cronies to weaponize the BFC in an effort to distract voters from Ellison’s disastrous record in the fight against skyrocketing violent crime and overseeing a $250 million fraud — the largest in state history,” Snell said. “The people of Minnesota want change, and Jim doesn’t care about attacks from Keith Ellison’s cronies who want to preserve the status quo.”

Ken Martin

Earlier this week, Schultz called for an investigation into St. Paul City Attorney Lyndsey Olson after he sent his campaign a cease-and-desist letter regarding an ad touting his police endorsement. Olson told Schultz to stop running the ad because it showed an officer in uniform with “St. Paul” visible on the crest, which she said made the police department look like the city ​​had endorsed Schultz. Schultz, who has the endorsement of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, suggested that Olson and DFL Mayor Melvin Carter targeted his campaign to help Ellison.

Federal and state election laws prohibit campaigns and “independent spending groups” from directly coordinating their efforts in elections. Outside groups are able to rake in vast sums of campaign money and spend it supporting a candidate or against an opponent as long as they follow this rule, but there are many loopholes.

In its complaint against Schultz, the DFL argued there was a “black and white” violation of the rules. According to the complaint and ad-buying documents provided by the DFL, someone associated with the Schultz campaign purchased anti-Ellison ads on Minnesota television stations on behalf of Minnesota for Freedom, a group associated with the National Association of Republican Attorneys General, a group that spends millions on attorney general races across the United States

The RAGA-affiliated group’s ad buys totaled more than $847,000 across three TV stations in the Twin Cities area, including KSTP, KARE and WCCO, Zoll said. The complaint argues that because someone involved with the Schultz campaign endorsed the independent group’s ads, the purchases should be considered campaign contributions, which in Minnesota are capped at $2,500 — well below hundreds of thousands spent.

The DFL says it could be the biggest violation of campaign finance law in Minnesota since Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s campaign suffered a similar violation in 2002. That year, the Republican Party bought $800,000 in ads and mislabeled them as freelance expenses,

Minnesota Public Radio reported

. Pawlenty was elected to his first term as governor anyway, but ended up being fined $100,000 and had his campaign spending limit reduced by half a million dollars.

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