HomeElectionsWidespread Campaign Finance Violations in Suburb of Minnetrista
Widespread Campaign Finance Violations in Suburb of Minnetrista
"The 2014 Mayoral race was won by less than 200 votes. Without the unfair advantage of Our Minnetrista’s illegal activity it’s reasonable to conclude that Whalen’s opposition in that race, Mark Vanderlinde, would’ve won the mayoral election by a wide margin."
Campaign finance laws serve to regulate the amount of donations flowing to political candidates for office from groups and individuals. Media attention usually focuses on the horse race for contributions between candidates for higher office.
But campaign finance limits also apply to candidates running for city council and mayor in local elections. Yet you’d never know it from numerous violations recently uncovered in the Twin Cities suburb of Minnetrista, where three of the five current city council members were found to have violated Minnesota’s Fair Campaign Practices Act.
A panel of Office of Administrative Law judges has ruled against the city’s mayor, two city councilors, a former city councilor and a shadowy political committee known as Our Minnetrista for campaign finance violations in either the 2014 and/or 2018 municipal elections. Their 21-page ruling includes this nugget:
The panel’s findings vindicate Minnetrista City Councilor Shannon Bruce, who first exposed the apparent violations and then vetted the verdict on her watchdog Minnetrista Governance Blog.
Moreover, Bruce believes the campaign and outcome of the election was not only undermined but likely determined by skirting the rules.
The OAH panel levied the maximum total amount of fines allowed in this case–$5,000. But Bruce believes much more needs to be done to uncover and prevent more widespread campaign violations in local elections statewide.
Tom Steward is Center of the American Experiment’s Government Accountability Reporter.