Letter from MN GOP to campaign finance board
September 23, 2009
Campaign Finance & Public Disclosure Board
Attention: Gary Goldsmith, Executive Director
190 Centennial Office Building
658 Cedar Street
St. Paul, Minnesota 55155-1603
Dear Mr. Goldsmith:
We are writing to request an advisory opinion regarding the campaign expenditures of St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.
State statute 10A states: "'Candidate' means an individual who seeks nomination or election as a state constitutional officer, legislator, or judge. An individual is deemed to seek nomination or election if the individual has taken the action necessary under the law of this state to qualify for nomination or election, has received contributions or made expenditures in excess of $100, or has given implicit or explicit consent for any other person to receive contributions or make expenditures in excess of $100, for the purpose of bringing about the individual's nomination or election. A candidate remains a candidate until the candidate's principal campaign committee is dissolved as provided in section 10A.24."
Furthermore, state statute 10A.14 states: "The treasurer of a political committee, political fund, principal campaign committee, or party unit must register with the board by filing a statement of organization no later than 14 days after the committee, fund, or party unit has made a contribution, received contributions, or made expenditures in excess of $100, or by the end of the next business day after it has received a loan or contribution that must be reported under section 10A.20, subdivision 5, whichever is earlier."
Based upon our examination of expenditures from the Chris Coleman for Saint Paul Campaign Committee and recent news accounts, we believe there can be little question that Mayor Coleman's expenditures in pursuit of an all but announced gubernatorial bid have far exceeded $100 threshold for filing a campaign committee.
Given that $100 is the threshold limit established by the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, we believe Mayor Coleman's expenditures deserve the scrutiny of the Board.
In addition, Mayor Coleman's Campaign Manager John Stiles has confirmed in several published reports that a potential run for governor by the mayor was likely discussed at multiple political events, including the Young Democrats of America Convention in Chicago, the Minnesota Building Trades Convention in Rochester, and the Minnesota Association of Justice Convention held at Alexandria's Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center. Stiles further "doesn't dispute" that a run for governor was discussed at political events in Rochester and Alexandria.
"Coleman campaign manager John Stiles said Coleman spent campaign money to address The Young Democrats of America Convention, the Minnesota Building Trades Convention and the State Convention of the Minnesota Association of Justice. ... Stiles said it's likely that Coleman discussed a probable run for governor in 2010 at the events..." (Tom Scheck, "Is Chris Coleman using mayoral campaign funds for 2010 planning?" Minnesota Public Radio, September 22, 2009)
"[Chris Coleman for Mayor Campaign Manager John] Stiles doesn't dispute that Coleman may have discussed a possible run for governor at events in Alexandria and Rochester." (Laura Yuen, "Challenger questions Chris Coleman's travel expenses," Minnesota Public Radio, September 22, 2009)
"Since March, the Chris Coleman for St. Paul Committee has reimbursed $1,932.95 in travel, hotel and meal expenses ranging from airline tickets to nights in Alexandria or meals in Rochester. John Stiles, Coleman's campaign manager, explained each of the expenses. Coleman spokesman and campaign worker Bob Hume, for example, traveled to Washington, D.C., in March to attend the National League of Cities convention. John Stiles, Coleman's campaign manager, explained each of the expenses. Coleman spokesman and campaign worker Bob Hume, for example, traveled to Washington, D.C., in March to attend the National League of Cities convention. 'That could have been official business,' Stiles said. 'We could have put it on the taxpayers, but he did some political work there...'" (Dave Orrick, "Challenger criticizes travels of St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman," Pioneer Press, September 23, 2009)
"A number of the expenses were for Coleman's lodging or meals at similar conferences and conventions, such as the National Convention of Young Democrats of America in Chicago in late July or the Minnesota Association for Justice in Alexandria in mid-August." (Dave Orrick, "Challenger criticizes travels of St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman," Pioneer Press, September 23, 2009)
We also offer to the Board the following information from the Chris Coleman for Saint Paul Committee report which we believe further demonstrates that Mayor Coleman's expenditures in pursuit of the governor's office have far exceeded the $100 limit set by the state.
3/12/09 Midwest Airlines $619.39
3/13/09 Orbitz.com $107.88
7/23/09 Arrowwood Resort Deposit $200.00
7/30/09 Kahler Grand Hotel $452.98
7/30/09 Northwest Airlines $249.19
8/17/09 Arrowwood Resort Lodging $107.80
6/18/09 Congressional District 7 Dinner $60.00
7/29/09 Gilligan's Cove (Rochester) $13.00
7/30/09 Kahler Grand Grill $86.89
8/3/09 Granite City Brewery $35.82
4/14/09 Mileage for Stiles $90.00
7/27/09 Mileage for Stiles $60.00
Donations to DFL Units
2/7/09 Senate District 32 DFL $50.00
6/11/09 Rice County DFL $200.00
Please find a copy of Mayor Coleman's 2009 Saint Paul Campaign Committee report and copies of the above news articles included with this correspondence.
Thank you for attention to this matter.
Tony Sutton, Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman
Michael Brodkorb, Republican Party of Minnesota Deputy Chairman