As early as December 3, 2010, Bluestem posted about the troubles the Republican Party was having paying counties for recount costs. And while other bloggers pointed the finger at unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer as the cad, Bluestem leaned toward the hijacking of the recount by Sutton and Brodkorb:
It's looking more and more that failed taco lord and MNGOP chair Tony Sutton runs the party's recount much like he's run his ailing franchise restaurant empire.
Last night in Recount Investigation: Calculating Another Cost, KEYC Fox reported:
County Auditors have been busy this week recounting election night ballots...but they've also been working hard to finish an even tougher task.Both political parties involved in the recount are asking counties for copies of data practices and election documents. . . .
The deets may bedevil the MNGOP in public opinion (ellipses in the original copy; I've divided the copy into visual paragraphs for readibility):
Bridgette Kennedy, Nicollet County Auditor say, "Staff has been stretched really thin and I don't say that only for Nicollet County but I know that's across the state, everybody's in the same boat.
That's because every county in the state was contacted by the Republican Party the day after the election and asked to produce a long list of election documents...Documents that were also requested by DFLers a week later. . .
As the months wore on, honest Republicans told us to look more at Count Them All Properly, a Republican shell committee set up by Sutton to handle the recount costs. Indeed, by July 2011, we asked Did Emmer finish paying party's bills? MNGOP to pay failed burrito baron $100,000 salary and on January 2, 2012, we noted that Sutton's secretive slush fund, Count Them All Properly, Inc., changes management.
We weren't the only ones watching, and fortunately, Common Cause Minnesota acted on the growing clouds of smoke that might well mean fire:
On January 4, 2012, the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board received a complaint from Common Cause Minnesota (CCM) signed by Mike Dean, its Executive Director, regarding the Republican Party of Minnesota (RPM). Although not specifically identified as respondents, the complaint also made allegations that, if true, could result in statutory violations by Mr. David Sturrock, RPM treasurer, Count Them All Properly, Inc., a Minnesota corporation (CTAP), Mr. Dan Puhl, incorporator of CTAP, Mr. Tony Sutton, former RPM Chairman, and others.
For the short skinny: news reports. Writing for Politics in Minnesota, Brianna Bierschbach reports in MN GOP on the hook for recount debts, Sutton and party fined:
The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board has found that the Republican Party of Minnesota is responsible for nearly $600,000 in legal fees accrued during the 2010 gubernatorial recount and has fined the party $27,000 and former party Chairman Tony Sutton $3,000 for failure to properly report to the board. . . .
The board found that instead of operating recount activities through the corporation, Sutton worked through the state party, thus putting current leadership and members on the hook for the fees.
“Mr. Sutton’s recollection and understanding of the events concerning his retention of counsel to assist with the recount was contradicted by each of the attorneys that he hired,” the report said. “All three lawyers testified that they understood they were working for the RPM. Mr. Sutton alone suggests that the lawyers understood that they would be or were working for an independent entity. In fact, after [Count Them All Properly] was formed, the law firm of Trimble and Associates had Mr. Sutton sign a guaranty agreement confirming that the RPM was responsible for its fees.” . . .
At MPR, political reporter Tom Scheck writes in Minn. GOP, former chairman face fines over recount:
Minnesota Campaign Finance Board Executive Director Gary Goldsmith said the board found that the recount effort was conducted by the party and funding for it should have been disclosed.
"Minnesota statutes prohibit routing a contribution through some other entity for the benefit of yet a third, namely the Republican Party, for the purpose of avoiding disclosure," Godlsmith said. "And the board concluded that that is what in fact what Mr. Sutton had done in this case, and by extension the Republican Party."
Both Bierschbach and Scheck note that Sutton could face criminal charges if a county attorney decides to pursue the matter.
Scheck notes that over at Dispatches from the Trenches, Sutton's blog, the failed burrito baron continues to dig.
Bluestem will have more after we've had a chance to fully savor the documents. Kudoes to Mike Dean and Common Cause Minnesota for their watchdog role in this sad chapter of Minnesota political history.
Image: Tony Sutton's funny money, by Tild.
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