ST. PAUL (AP) -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty moved Monday to correct his 2001 and 2002 economic disclosure reports to acknowledge that he owned a company that took payments for his consulting work with a pay-phone company run by a friend and political benefactor.
He also released a copy of his contract to do the work, and planned to file another lapsed report with a lawyers oversight board.
Pawlenty described the refiling as an effort to correct his only potential major lapse regarding his relationships with several telecommunication companies, including one accused of cheating customers.
"With today's actions, the governor is working to set the record straight and address any confusion or oversights regarding forms," spokeswoman Leslie Kupchella said. In a letter to the campaign finance board, Pawlenty said he refiled the forms to "allow for possible alternative interpretations," of the law but he says he believes his original report was "appropriate."
Democrats were unsatisfied.
They demanded still more information in a morning news conference, saying Pawlenty's comments on the entire matter have raised many unanswered questions. Two senators and a representative asked for Pawlenty's 2001 and 2002 tax returns, saying they suspect he didn't pay all required taxes, though they said they had no evidence to back up the allegation.
Kupchella said Pawlenty would not release his tax returns, out of privacy concerns, but said Pawlenty properly paid required taxes.
The disclosure forms have spaces to report "securities" -- stocks and bond holdings worth more than $2,500 -- as well as "sources of compensation." The second space is where public officials and candidates for office are asked to check whether the are a director, officer, owner, member, partner, employer or employee of an organization.
Pawlenty listed his company along with his stock holdings, but he did not list it as a source of compensation. Campaign finance experts questioned his reports after Pawlenty told reporters that he'd established the company, Bamco, specifically to accept the money he earned as a consultant.
Democrats maintain the larger question is whether Pawlenty was expected to do any work for his monthly stipend. If not, they say, it could be regarded as an illegal campaign contribution.
In the five-page contract Pawlenty released, he promises to provide legal services to Access Anywhere, to help the company identify financing and to "assist the company with regulatory compliance issues."
He also promised to send the company a monthly invoice, but Kupchella said that was never done.
The governor's ties to telecommunications companies came under scrutiny last week amid reports that Pawlenty was one of three members of the board of directors of a telecommunications company, NewTel, whose subsidiary paid $222,000 to settle consumer protection cases with three states last year.
Pawlenty himself told reporters about work he did for a pay-phone company partly owned by the man who runs NewTel, longtime Pawlenty friend Elam Baer. For most of his campaign, he was on a $4,500 per month retainer as a legal and business consultant to the company, earning roughly $60,000.
Rep. John Lesch, a prosecutor for the city of St. Paul, worked to invoke Watergate language in his criticism, describing the telecom matter as "a third-rate burglary of Minnesota consumers which rises to the highest levels of Minnesota government."
Kupchella called the Democratic complaints "nothing more than a reckless, false, partisan fishing expedition."
Filing an incorrect report is a technical violation of the state's disclosure law but penalties vary widely. If the campaign finance board found Pawlenty committed an unintentional violation, he could simply be asked to file a new report within 10 days. If the board found a violation was intentional, it could be a gross misdemeanor with a $3,000 fine.
Bill Amberg, a spokesman for the state DFL Party, said several people called the party last week expressing interest in filing complaints, but he said Monday he was unaware if any had. Campaign finance board officials said they were unable to confirm or deny whether a complaint has been filed.
A spokesman said Pawlenty also filed a report about Bamco with the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, an agency of the state Supreme Court established to handle complaints of unprofessional conduct by lawyers.
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