Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The GOP brain trust strikes again

In one of the comments to the post below, Spot mentions that the Minnesota Republican Party filed a complaint yesterday with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board about the polling data that Candidate Horner has had access to. Party Chairman Sutton and Deputy Party Chairman Brodkorb speculate that Horner has had access to the internal polling data on a poll conducted by Decision Resources, an outfit owned by Horner friend and campaign supporter Bill Morris. If Horner had access, then he and Morris "colluded and shared information," something Sutton and Brodkorb believe to be "an illegal corporate contribution to the Horner campaign on behalf of Decision Resources, which is prohibited under 211B.15, Subdivision 2."

The action, according to the GOP leadership, is "deeply troubling." The complaint demands answers to a series of questions about the sharing of information. The aura of righteous indignation often associated with GOP complaints to the Board oozes from the complaint.

But there's a problem. (This is where the brain trust part comes in.)

Minnesota Statutes Section 211B.15 subdivision 2 was - just about a month ago - declared unconstitutional in a lawsuit brought by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce in light of the decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 130 S.Ct. 876 (2010). Judge Paul Magnuson declared subdivision 2 unconstitutional in its prohibition of certain activities and he declared subdivision 3 (which prohibited corporate independent expenditures to promote or defeat a candidate) unconstitutional in its entirety. The judge ordered that:
2. Minnesota Statutes section 211B.15, subd. 3 is unconstitutional in its entirety;

3. Minnesota Statutes section 211B.15, subd. 2 is unconstitutional insofar as it prohibits or otherwise purports to restrict or limit Plaintiff's acceptance of contributions for the purpose of making independent expenditures or otherwise making corporate independent expenditures from its general treasury funds on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for political office, including, but not limited to, taking out print, television, [*12] or internet advertisements; endorsing candidates; placing endorsements on websites; using blogs to post messages of support or endorsement; renting advertisement space on a billboard; sending letters to businesses informing them of endorsements and encouraging members or the public to support certain candidates for political office; coordinating rallies; and organizing and staffing phone banks.

Minn. Chamber of Commerce v. Gaertner, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51334, 11-12 (D. Minn. May 7, 2010).

So yes, Sutton and Brodkorb just filed a complaint alleging a violation of a statute their friends at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce fought hard to have declared unconstitutional. I'll leave commentary on the irony of the GOP complaining about illegal corporate contributions to others.

Update: Not only have they filed the complaint about actions under law declared unconstitutional, they filed it with the wrong agency. Here is the letter from the Executive Director of the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board stating that they're not accepting the complaint because they don't have jurisdiction over the enforcement of the statute.

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