Minnesota Urged to Make Clear That Expenditures Made With Funds Raised By Candidates Are “Coordinated” Expenditures, Not “Independent” Expenditures


Today, the Campaign Legal Center urged the Minnesota Campaign Finance & Public Disclosure Board to approve an advisory opinion making clear that if a candidate solicits funds for an outside group, expenditures made by the group supporting such candidate will be deemed “coordinated” with the candidate, not “independent” from the candidate.  The nonpublic request, filed by attorneys on behalf of an anonymous client, asks whether a candidate’s fundraising of unlimited amounts from individuals and corporations for an independent expenditure committee would be “independent” of the committee’s later express advocacy efforts to elect that same candidate.
In comments filed with Minnesota’s campaign finance agency, the Legal Center emphasized that allowing candidates to solicit these funds would by definition constitute coordination, and in effect eliminate the state’s corruption-preventing candidate contribution limits.  The comments further stressed that under Minnesota law, an expenditure is not “independent” of a candidate if it is made with the “implied consent” or “cooperation” of the candidate.  The Legal Center urges the Board to approve the draft advisory opinion that concludes the obvious—that candidate fundraising for an expenditure constitutes implied consent and cooperation regarding that expenditure.  Such an opinion would be fully in keeping with Supreme Court precedent, which has repeatedly recognized that candidate solicitations pose a serious threat of corruption and circumvention, even if the funds are accepted and spent by another entity.
“This anonymous requestor has asked the agency to ignore the laws passed by the Minnesota State Legislature as well as the clear precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court in order to allow what would amount to solicitations by candidates of unlimited contributions for their own benefit,” said J. Gerald Hebert, Legal Center Executive Director.  “The High Court has been abundantly clear in its recognition that this type of solicitation poses a very serious threat of corruption or at the very least the appearance of corruption, either of which is sufficient to uphold such limits.  As the Court has pointed out, the candidate solicitation itself is clear evidence that the donation is of value to the candidate.”
To read the comments filed by the Legal Center, click here.