MN GOP Hit With Second Federal Ethics Complaint

Kelly Fenton Acting MN Republican Party Chair

The Minnesota’s Republican Party’s failure to make timely disclosures not only have prompted a state investigation, but now there may be a federal investigation too…targeting the party for being a repeat offender.

It was just five months ago Minnesota’s Republican Party agreed it had violated federal law by deliberately hiding its debts from investigators and was fined $170,000. Now a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission says the Minnesota Republican Party has continued to hide its debts.

The new complaint from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) was prompted by a Republican Party news conference on December 30 that revealed it was nearly $2 million in debt, including $415,211 that had never been reported to the Federal Election Commission.

Earlier this week Common Cause of Minnesota had filed a similar complaint with the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board.

Press release from CREW

Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against the Republican Party of Minnesota (RPM) and its former chairman and treasurer*, Anthony Sutton. The complaint alleges the RPM violated the Federal Election Campaign Act and a conciliation agreement the party signed less than five months ago with the FEC by deliberately hiding its debts from FEC investigators. Back in 2007, CREW had filed a similar complaint against the RPM, leading the FEC to impose a $170,000 fine last summer.

“The Republican Party of Minnesota’s FEC reports haven’t reflected the party’s actual financial condition for nearly a decade and make a mockery of the public’s right to know,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “There appears to be ample evidence Mr. Sutton, repeatedly lied to FEC investigators for years to achieve the party’s political goals. Party officials signed a conciliation agreement with the FEC pledging the party would clean up its act and – less than six months later – we discover absolutely nothing has changed.”

On December 30, 2011, the RPM held a news conference to announce the party had conducted an internal review revealing $2 million in debts, including $415,211 that had never been reported to the FEC. According to party officials, they had been fighting with party treasurer Anthony Sutton over the release of party financial information, but had been unable to obtain the records until Sutton resigned. As RPM’s treasurer, Sutton appears to have filed false reports with the FEC.

Federal law requires state committees like the RPM to disclose all outstanding debts and obligations. In addition, knowingly and willfully filing false reports with the FEC is a federal crime.

“When CREW filed its initial complaint back in 2007 we asked the FEC to conduct a full audit of the RPM’s finances, but the FEC declined,” said Ms. Sloan. “If the commission had done its job, we wouldn’t have to ask them to restart yet another botched investigation. Allowing such conduct to go unpunished reinforces the public’s view that politics is a dirty, rigged game. The FEC continues to fail the American public.”

*Note: the CREW press release lists Anthony Sutton as a former Treasurer of the Minnesota Republican Party. FEC records indicate he was treasurer in 2009. In 2011 the Minnesota Republican Party Treasurer was David Sturrock.

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

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