Tony Sutton fined $3,000, MNGOP fined $26,900 by Minnesota Campaign Finance Board

Former MNGOP chair Sutton took a baseball bat to the party's now-broken balance sheet.
Former MNGOP chair Sutton took a baseball bat to the party's now-broken balance sheet.

-- MNGOP report reveals "inadequate transparency and oversight" of party finances
-- MNGOP: "No state party may be in worse financial shape," writes Politico
-- MNGOP evicted from office space, owes about $100,000 to landlord

The fallout from Tony Sutton's disastrous run as MNGOP chairman continues.

Today, the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board fined Sutton $3,000 and the party $26,900 for failing to properly report expenses related to the 2010 gubernatorial recount.

In 2010, the MNGOP created a corporation called Count Them All Properly for the purpose of handling recount activities. But, as Politics in Minnesota reports, "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 [legal] fees," which total nearly $600,000.

In fact, the Campaign Finance Board concluded that Sutton could even face criminal prosecution for circumventing campaign finance laws by steering a $30,000 donation meant for the party's coffers to Count Them All Properly in order to avoid disclosure.

Here's the board's summary of its findings:

In 2010 the [Republican Party of Minnesota] had a finance director who was recently promoted from telemarketing and who testified that he knew next to nothing about campaign Finance Board reports and professed that it was not his job to review the reports in preparation for the treasurer's signing them. The RPM had a chair who was busy with fundraising and his own business and believed that the finance director and the party unit's compliance company were responsible for preparation of the reports. The RPM had a compliance company that disavows any responsibility for campaign finance reports other than to put data into a system and print out the reports. And finally, the RPM had a treasurer who placed all of his reliance on these three individuals. Given that situation, it is no surprise that the RPM reports were inaccurate.

Other than that, everything was dandy.

MNGOP Chairman Pat Shortridge became the party leader after Sutton resigned last December. In wake of today's report, he released a statement basically saying he can't be held responsible for the mess Sutton created:

Shortridge is left with the unenviable task of cleaning up Sutton's mess.
Shortridge is left with the unenviable task of cleaning up Sutton's mess.

Questions surrounding whether pursuing the recount was advisable, whether it was money well spent, and whether the process followed in pursuing the recount made sense, are nothing more than Monday morning quarterbacking at this point. It won't change our circumstances. We have learned from the mistakes of the past and made substantial changes in the way we do business.

Meanwhile, on his personal blog, Sutton posted what very well may be the most vacuous statement of all time, saying, "I am disappointed with the findings by the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board concerning the Republican Party of Minnesota and Count Them all Properly, Inc. I disagree with their findings and believe they should have reached a different conclusion." Alright, then.

As PiM reports, the board's decision to add recount fees to the party's tab officially puts the MNGOP's debt load over $1 million. That debt, combined with the messy and ongoing Koch-Brodkorb scandal, suggests it could be an ugly election season for Minnesota Republicans.

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