Minn. GOP, former chairman face fines over recount

Published 6:45 am Sunday, July 15, 2012

ST. PAUL — Campaign finance regulators fined the Minnesota Republican Party and its former chairman on Friday, saying they funneled a donation and some expenses in the 2010 governor’s race recount through a separate corporation to hide them from public view.

The Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board fined the party $26,900, but reserved its harshest judgment for the party’s former chairman, Tony Sutton.

Along with fining him $3,000, the board said Sutton deliberately redirected a $30,000 contribution to the corporation, Count Them All Properly Inc., to avoid public scrutiny. It also said he could be subject to criminal penalties if the appropriate county attorney decided to pursue the matter. Count Them All Properly, which was set up to pay the party’s recount expenses, also was fined $3,000.

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Sutton said in a statement posted online that he was disappointed in the ruling, saying: “I disagree with their findings and believe they should have reached a different conclusion.”

The Minnesota Republican Party’s new chairman, Pat Shortridge, took a sharply different tone, saying that since he took over late last year, the party has cooperated with the board’s investigation and already assumed that the remaining 2010 recount debts were the party’s responsibility. He said the party has made substantial changes in the way it does business.