The Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings has ordered an evidentiary hearing and issued notice of a prima facie violation regarding an unfair campaign practice charge leveled by Terry Sluss, the unsuccessful Senate District 12 candidate in last fall's elections.
Sluss, of Baxter, maintained the Senate Victory Fund, the campaign organization for Minnesota Senate Republicans, and the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life were involved in a mailing that violated a campaign statute that prohibits an organization from knowingly publishing or sending out material it knows is false. The mailing was sent out days before the election.
Sluss, a former Crow Wing County Board member, said Friday afternoon that he was pleased that a hearing will be conducted in the matter. He said the notice of a prima facie violation indicates an administrative law judge believes there was a violation based on an initial look at the complaint.
"I'm very pleased that I can, potentially, save some of my integrity that was put on the line," he said.
Dan Miller, who worked with the Senate Victory Fund, said Friday he had no comment on the notice since he had yet to see the findings.
An MCCL spokesperson could not be reached.
The Office of Administrative Hearings notice, issued last week, said an evidentiary hearing will be conducted in the matter within 90 days of when the complaint was filed (Jan. 8).
Sluss contended that he had consistently told voters he supported life. Postcards prepared by the MCCL and paid for by the Senate Victory Fund stated "Terry Sluss refused to commit to any legal protection for innocent unborn babies."
The administrative law judge found that Sluss made a prima facie showing that the MCCL and Senate Victory Fund violated a state statute dealing with false campaign materials and that the issue should be assigned to a three-judge panel to consider the complaint at an evidentiary hearing.
Sluss was defeated Nov. 7 by Sen. Paul Koering, R-Fort Ripley.
The postcards stated the mailing was an independent expenditure, not approved by any candidate.
The case was reviewed earlier by Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan, who wrote to Sluss saying he believed the former county commissioner may have a valid complaint. Ryan had solicited responses from the MCCL and the Senate Victory Fund. The county attorney said he received no response from the Senate Victory Fund and that the MCCL had, in essence, stated that it did not violate the law.
MIKE O'ROURKE can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5860.
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