Early last week, Bluestem took a look at the details of a Minnesota mention in a front page Sunday New York Times article about hidden corporate contributions in American politics. In Express Scripts worked to bring "certainty" to Minnesota's (GOP?) voters during redistricting, Bluestem looked at the tangled web they wove. We also noted the paucity of data available about Minnesotans for a Fair Redistricting:
Minnesotans for a Fair Redistricting is not registered with the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General Division of Charities, nor with the Campaign Finance and Disclosure Board. Guidestar's entry for the organization notes that it is registered with the IRS but no reports are available for it.
Fortunately for Minnesotans, this poor country blogger wasn't the only one watching. In Smoking Gun email: MN GOP May Have Hid Corporate Contributions The Uptake's Mike McIntee reports that Common Cause MN has been able to connect the dots following its successful complaint about the entwined finances of the Republican Party of Minnesota and the shell recount corporation, Count Them All Properly:
Minnesota’s Republican Party may have used the same illegal method to fund its 2011 redistricting fight as it used to fund the Minnesota 2010 Gubernatorial recount, but this it time may have also violated a Minnesota law that prohibits corporate contributions to political parties.
Last week the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board fined former Minnesota Republican Party Chair Tony Sutton $3,000 for using a non-profit company to hide donations intended to help the party pay legal bills for the recount. Common Cause of Minnesota says it will announce today that it is pursuing a felony criminal complaint against Sutton and the founders of the non-profit company “Count Them All Properly” (CTAP) that could result in a five-year jail term. But an email uncovered in that investigation could open a whole new case against the Minnesota Republican Party.
Buried in hundreds of documents released from the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board is an email from then state Republican Party Chair Tony Sutton that seems to indicate the party would be setting up a non-profit corporation to cover it’s legal bills for the redistricting court fight. The email was dated January 19, 2011. Two days later Minnesotans for a Fair Redistricting filed with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office for non-profit status.
“As to redistricting,” Sutton wrote in the email, “we will be creating a 501-c4 (which can take corporate donations and as such will be MUCH easer to raise money for than the recount fund). We did this ten years ago and that organization covered all our legal bills.”
The email was addressed to former Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson who served as legal counsel to the Republican Party for the 2010 recount. “If you are interested, I will put your name forward to possibly be part of our legal team,” Sutton continued.
Magnuson ended up representing a Republican backed group before a special redistricting panel in 2011.
Read the rest at the Uptake: the Express Script corporate contribution is at the center of the potential violation. Weep or laugh as is your inclination given the follies of the former Republican chair and failed burrito baron Tony Sutton.
Criminal complaint on 2010 violations to be filed today.
[ Mike] Dean will announce later today that Common Cause is pursuing a felony criminal complaint against the two main officers of Count Them All Properly and Sutton. Since the crime is a felony, they could face a five-year jail sentence and a $20,000 fine if charged and found guilty.
And The Uptake being The Uptake, there's video:
Image: Tony Sutton's El Banco MNGOP peso. By Tild.
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