In a letter to Fritz Knaak, attorney for Parry and Newman, MCFPB executive director Gary Goldsmith writes:
The Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board received your complaint in the above matter on October 10, 2012. The Board will investigate a complaint filed with it unless the complaint does not allege a violation of Minnesota Statutes Chapter 10A or the complaint is so insufficient in its allegations as to not warrant an investigation. The Board has delegated to it Executive Director the authority to determie if a complaint meets the thresholds to require an investigation. . . .
The only question the Board could consider is whether the allegations of the complaint give rise to a registration or reporting requirement under Chapter 10A.
In the immediate case, I have determined that your complaint is insufficient to require an investigation...
In GOP senators file complaint against secretary of state, MPR's Tim Pugmire reported that in addition to filing a complaint with the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), the senators intended to go to the campaign practices board:
Parry, whose Senate term ends in three months, said he also wants the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board and the Office of the Legislative Auditor to look into Ritchie. He said those complaints could come later. Parry abruptly ended the news conference and left the room, even though reporters were still asking questions.
Goldsmith determined that Ritchie was not engaged in express advocacy:
. . .ex[ress advocacy in the independent expenditure context requires the use of the "magic words" of express advocacy, such as "vote for" "vote against" or similar words.
Goldsmith also determined that an insert prepared by a third party in a single letter didn't exceed any reporting threshold determined by cost.
There's the letter
A synposis of the complaint to the OAH is found here. The OAH found that:
After reviewing the Complaint and attached exhibits, the undersigned Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) has determined that the Office of Administrative Hearings lacks jurisdiction over the alleged violations of Minn. Stat. §§ 16A.139 and 43A.38, but that the Complaint does set forth prima facie violations of Minn. Stat. §§ 211B.04, 211B06, and 211B.09.
A probable cause hearing was held on October 12. James Nord reported in More info sought before any decision on GOP complaint against Mark Ritchie:
An administrative law judge is evaluating whether there’s probable cause in two GOP senators’ complaint alleging that Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is misinforming voters and abusing his state office over the proposed voting amendment.
Fritz Knaak, a former GOP lawmaker and an attorney representing Sens. Mike Parry and Scott Newman, argued Friday in a telephone hearing that Ritchie used his office’s website and other avenues to mislead voters about the amendment’s cost and potential effects on Minnesota’s election system. . . .
At issue on Friday was the validity of Ritchie’s assertions that the amendment could cost upward of $50 million to implement and whether it would significantly alter voting procedures.
Advocates for the amendment insist it would be relatively cheap to enact.
Kristyn Anderson, of the attorney general’s office, argued legislative cost estimates validated the secretary’s claims. She also defended Ritchie’s assertions that the amendment could end same-day voter registration and inhibit absentee and military voting.
Bluestem will have more as this develops; it's not clear how the findings of the board will have any bearing on the OAH's judge's final ruling, however related the complaints and information may be.
Regardless, Bluestem has to think that Senator Scott Newman is so not happy about this separate ruling.
Ritchie said he is "very pleased to have the dismissal ... we are focused here on the upcoming elections. We've got 3 million customers coming though the door in about a week, and that's our total focus."
Photo: Bluestem suspects that Senator Scott Newman is so not happy about the Goldsmith letter.