ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota DFL Party and officials from a former lawmaker's 1998 campaign have agreed to pay nearly $3,000 for exceeding spending limits, officials said Friday.
The agreement is a compromise reached by DFL Party officials, the campaign of former DFL Rep. Gail Skare of Bemidji and the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.
House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, had filed the complaint on behalf of the 1998 campaign of Doug Fuller, a Republican who went on to beat Skare in the general election.
Sviggum brought five allegations against the Skare campaign and the DFL Party over campaign mailings. Three of the complaints were dismissed and two were upheld, according to a news release distributed by Skare.
Skare said in an interview that the settlement was a way to keep the matter out of court.
"I'm not admitting guilt, but I just want it over with," she said. "Our campaign did nothing wrong."
Although the board hasn't yet made the information public, Skare's release said the board found that a sample ballot mailed on her behalf was considered a campaign brochure because it emphasized Skare more than the other candidates listed. Sample ballots are exempt from campaign limits, but brochures are not.
The second complaint upheld by the board involved a fund-raising letter that contained a campaign message on behalf of the candidates for whom contributions were being solicited. The board said contribution solicitations cannot contain such messages.
The Skare campaign will reimburse the DFL Party $875 for the cost that the exceeded the limit on campaign mailings. The House DFL caucus and the Skare campaign will together pay a separate civil fine of $2,115.55 -- one-and-a-half times the total amount by which the Skare campaign exceeded the total campaign spending limit.
In both cases, the Minnesota DFL Party maintains there was no wrongdoing by the party or the campaign and they disagree with the board's interpretation of the mailings.
They agreed to the compromise because it would have cost more to fight in court, according to the release.
"To go on and challenge it wouldn't be really prudent," said DFL spokeswoman Karen Louise Boothe.
Sviggum didn't want to comment on specifics until after the board releases its decision.
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