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CountyAttorny Ltr FINAL

CountyAttorny Ltr FINAL

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Published by crichert30

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Published by: crichert30 on May 09, 2012
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05/09/2012

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2323 E. Franklin AveMinneapolis, MN 55406
May 10, 2012John ChoiRamsey County Attorney50 Kellogg Blvd WSt Paul, MN 55102Dear Mr. Choi,Over the last several months, Common Cause Minnesota has been looking into the financialactivities of a Minnesota corporation that was created to pay for the recount costs of the MinnesotaRepublican Party called Count Them All Properly, Incorporated. We believe that there is evidenceto begin an investigation of this group for forgery and making an illegal in-kind contribution to acandidate and political party. That is why we are urging you to work with the Saint Paul PoliceDepartment to begin an investigation into these potential violations.Common Cause Minnesota is non-partisan, nonprofit government watchdog group that focuses oncampaign finance issues and government reform. Since the 2010 United States Supreme Courtdecision in
Citizens United 
, there has been increased concern about how corporate entities can beused to conceal campaign financial activities or even circumvent state campaign finance disclosurelaws. For that reason, Common Cause Minnesota has been paying close attention to the campaignfinance reports and activities of a variety of groups as they attempt to push the limits of the
CitizensUnited 
decision and Minnesota campaign finance law.That is why the April 29
Star Tribune
article (“GOP firm’s ‘CEO’ in the dark”) is so concerning. Itappears that Count Them All Properly, Inc. is engaged in a pattern of illegal activities. The articlelays out how the two past CEO’s of Count Them All Properly, Incorporated never agreed to be theCEO of the corporation. In fact, they had never heard of the corporation or the other agents of thegroup. It may be possible that one person was accidently registered as CEO, but twice in a 12month period raises serious questions that warrant an investigation. Providing false information tothe Minnesota Secretary of State’s office on an annual renewal is a felony under Minnesota Statutes§§ 609.625 and 609.63.The Minnesota Secretary of State’s office has the Internet Protocol address for the individual that isresponsible for making the false filing. However, they did not provide that information to CommonCause Minnesota in a data practices request because they consider it private data. That informationmay be available to any investigation conducted your office or the Saint Paul Police department.There is also evidence that another crime may have occurred when Count Them All Properly,Incorporated provided an in-kind contribution to the Minnesota Republican Party and the Tom
 
2323 E. Franklin AveMinneapolis, MN 55406
Emmer for governor campaign. During the 2010 recount, the Minnesota Republican Party and TomEmmer for Governor Campaign accrued $719,000 in legal expenses associated with the recount.Those legal expenses included lawsuits against:
 
Saint Louis and Pine county for not providing data
1
 
 
Filed a lawsuit
2
on November 17 with the Minnesota Supreme Court over ballotreconciliation.Those expenses were never reported to the Minnesota Campaign Finance 2010 Reports andExpenditures Report for Tom Emmer for Governor and Minnesota Republican Party.It was reported by Tom Scheck of Minnesota Public radio on February 1, 2011 that Count Them AllProperly, Inc. was in fact the group that paid legal expenses.
The Republican Party of Minnesota and Republican Tom Emmer's campaign for governor will not disclose the money it raised to help with the recount. Republican Party of MinnesotaChair Tony Sutton said today that the group created a separate corporate account, Count Them All Properly Inc., for their recount efforts. He said they won't disclose the amount of money raised or by whom -- and state and federal laws don't require them to release it.That's counter to Sutton's past comments where he said they would run their recount fundsthrough The Minnesota Republican Party. Those funds would have been disclosed if Suttonand others accepted the funds through the Republican Party's main account.When asked about the discrepancy between his past statement and the decision to not disclose the funds, Sutton said "We changed our minds."
3
 
This is an in-kind contribution because Count Them All Properly paid for the legal expenses of theTom Emmer for Governor campaign and the Republican Party of Minnesota. Such a contribution isin violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 211B.15 subd. 2.Currently, the Republican Party of Minnesota and Count Them All Properly, Inc. are beinginvestigated by the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board for circumventingstate campaign finance laws. Regardless of the outcome of that investigation, the CFDB does nothave the jurisdiction to investigate a 211B violation. Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes section211B.16, “a county attorney may prosecute any violation of this chapter.” Further, pursuant to
1
Republican Party of Minnesota Press Release, “Emmer for Governor, Republican Party of Minnesota file suit againstSt. Louis and Pine Counties” November 12, 2010.http://www.mngop.com/news.asp?artid=503 
2
“Tom Emmer and the Republican Party of Minnesota are asking the Minnesota Supreme Court to delay a recount in Minnesota'scontested race for governor.”Scheck, Tom. “GOP sues over ballots in Minn. Gov race” MPR News November 17, 2010http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/11/17/gop-lawsuit/  
3
Scheck, Tom. “MNGOP won't disclose recount fundraising” MPR News February 1, 2011http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/special/columns/polinaut/archive/2011/02/mngop_wont_disc.shtml
 

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