Common Cause Minnesota (CCM) is a “non-partisan” PAC that exists, in its entirety, to advance liberal causes and, when they can’t manage that, to retard conservative ones.
Oh, they tart the message up like a twenty-dollar hooker: “Common Cause Minnesota is a nonprofit, nonpartisan citizen’s lobby dedicated to improving the way state government operates. We have helped pass Minnesota’s most important ethics and campaign finance reforms“, is what they say on their website. And everywhere, in all their communication – transparency. Transparency, transparancy, transparency. They want “Transparency” in government. Or so they say.
We’ll come back to that.
As I pointed out last September, in the wake of finding out that “Alliance For A Better Minnesota” was spending an avalanche of funding from not-so-transparent sources like Mark Dayton, his ex-wife and a slew of unions, through via a fiscal shell game that Derek Brigham mapped out as well as anyone – certainly better than anyone in the mainstream media…
…Common Cause had demanded an investigation of…
…Campaign for Minnesota’s future, and a donation it got from the Republican Governors Assocation.
And for this campaign, Common Cause went big, going to the state Campaign Finance Board.
CCM’s announcement certainly set the stakes high (emphasis added by me):
WHAT: Common Cause has uncovered an elaborate scheme by three entities to hide political contributions.
WHEN: Thursday, September 30, 2010
WHERE: Room 125, State Capitol
Common Cause Minnesota will outline a major complaint that it has filed with the Campaign Finance Disclosure Board alleging that three different entities circumvented Minnesota disclosure law and failed to properly disclose large contributions. The parties involved could face civil penalties totaling $5.1 million and criminal prosecution.
And when the CFB released its results, CCM spun it like it was huge news; Mike Dean, CCM’s president, tweeted:
Campaign Finance Board finds that Minnesota’s Future, LLC Violated State Law:
Of course, like everything Mike Dean and CCM say and do, it was a bunch of twaddle. The Minnesota Campaign Finance Board released its conclusions.
Among CCM’s many charges was that the Republican Governors Association didn’t disclose its donors according to Minnesota law.
It was true; they did it better than Minnesota law!
The Board notes that the RGA disclosed all of its sources of income to the IRS under the requirements applicable to organizations registered under IRC section 527. The timing of that disclosure is different than what is required in Minnesota but the level of itemization is greater than Minnesota requires. This observation is noted because it suggests that avoidance of disclosure was not a motive for the RGA when it made its contribution to Minnesota Future, LLC.
Conclusions from CFB investigation – again, with emphasis added:
Based on the above analysis, and the submissions of the Complainant and the other parties, the Board makes the following:
Findings Concerning Probable Cause
1. There is probable cause to believe that Minnesota Future, LLC, and State Fund for Economic Growth, both Minnesota corporations, operated as political committees as defined by statute and were required to register with the Board within ten days of accepting contributions or making expenditures in excess of $100.
2. There is no probable cause to believe that the failure of Minnesota Future, LLC, or State Fund For Economic Growth to register was done with the knowledge and understanding the corporation was, in fact, required to register.
3. Minnesota Future, LLC, and State Fund for Economic Growth have registered with and reported to the Board retroactive to the date they first accepted contributions in excess of $100. They have completed their registration and reporting obligations. Consequently, there is no probable cause to believe that an ongoing violation exists.
So there was no substantial violation of any kind. It was a technical violation of a provision in state election finance law that’s not all that clear; no harm was done, no fines were levied (they very frequently are in these cases); Minnesota Forward didn’t get so much as a stern “you watch what you’re doing, now!” No “criminal charges”, no “multimillion dollar fines”.
CCM’s selective complaining was incongruous enough to make even liberal-in-good-standing Paul Demko ask:
But Common Cause did not file a similar complaint against WIN Minnesota, a DFL-aligned organization that has been helping pay for attack ads against GOP nominee Tom Emmer. The group received a similar $250,000 contribution from the Democratic Governors Association (DGA).
Dean said WIN Minnesota is in compliance with the law because it’s organized under a different section of the tax code and has a broader mandate then simply influencing electoral politics. But he conceded that WIN Minnesota is no more transparent in revealing the source of the DGA money then its conservative counterpart. “The issue is one organization followed the law and the other organization did not,” Dean said.
Except that MNForward did, according to the Campaign Finance Board – and if WIN Minnesota (one of the maze of shell groups underwrting “Alliance for a Better Minnesota”) did, it was only by the stretchiest definition of “the letter of the law”, and I doubt even that.
So you might be reading this, and thinking – “Wow – Common Cause sounds like a bunch of weasels”.
Now, now. Not yet, they don’t.
Read this bit first (again with emphasis added):
At issue is a $429,000 contribution that the Republican Governors Association funneled to the group, which has been running television commercials bashing DFL gubernatorial nominee Mark Dayton. Common Cause argues in the complaint that Minnesota’s Future was required to disclose the names of donors who contributed to the Republican Governors Association.
Leaving aside the fact that the Campaign Finance Board rejected the premise that Minnesota’s future did anything wrong, I’d like you to check this out. It’s an excerpt from Page 4 of Common Cause’s 2008 IRS Form 990 – disclosures.
Can’t read the names?
Get used to it. There are eight pages of donations, a total of 44 of them, totalling over $600,000.
For one year.
And not one name.
For a group that alleges itself to be all about “transparency in politics”.
The lesson from this? Whenever “Common Cause” pops up in this state’s political discourse, they need to be pelted with rhetorical rocks and garbage. They exist only as a front group for the DFL; they are fundamentally dishonest.
I’ve invited CCM “president” Mike Dean to appear on the Northern Alliance Radio Network to discuss his various charges, and defend CCM against the charge that they are lying to the people. Repeatedly. For almost three months.
I expect better from responsible adults with non-risible points of view.
Place your bets.