Apr 26, 2021 - News

Minnesota campaign finance watchdog in limbo without full board

A dome atop the state capitol

Photo by: Michael Siluk/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Minnesota's campaign finance watchdog agency will lack teeth for at least a month, after legislators failed to approve three of Gov. Tim Walz's appointees.

Why it matters: Without a quorum, the six-member Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure board can't meet or move forward with investigations and fines targeting politicians and groups that break the state's political disclosure laws.

What happened: Just one of four appointees named by Walz last summer, former DFL legislator Carol Flynn, was approved by a Thursday deadline.

  • The terms of the other three — Democrat Stephen Swanson, Republican Peggy Leppik, and Faris Rashid, an attorney filling a politically unaffiliated spot — expired as a result.
  • All three got confirmation hearings in the DFL-controlled House, but not the GOP-led Senate. Neither chamber held a floor vote.

What they're saying: A spokesman for the DFL governor accused Republicans of blocking the picks and rendering the board "unable to continue its work of upholding integrity and accountability in campaign finance."

The other side: Republican Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, chair of the elections committee, said during a recent floor session that "the votes were not there" to advance the lapsed nominees.

  • It's not clear what concerns were raised about the nominees; Swanson and Leppik had served since 2015 and 2017 respectively.

What's next: The administration has to repost the openings for several weeks before going through the appointment process again.

  • "Best case scenario is the board won't be in a position to meet for at least 36 days," executive director Jeff Sigurdson said Friday.

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