ST. PAUL -- Republican Tim Pawlenty said Friday he will abide by an ethics board ruling that could empty his campaign fund in the final weeks of the gubernatorial race, declining to challenge the decision in court.
Pawlenty's campaign will pay for TV commercials found to be illegally funded by the state Republican Party, costing him as much as $800,000. He also suspended his own ad campaign and fired a media consultant who helped create the disputed commercials.
"Successful leaders take responsibility for what happens on their watch. This happened on my watch," he said.
"This campaign had no intention of breaking the law, but I will accept the decision of the campaign finance board," he said.
Opponents said Pawlenty's response doesn't go far enough and that they would make it an issue in the final weeks of the campaign.
"You bet we're going to be talking about this until November 5th," said DFL Party chairman Mike Erlandson. "We will be happy to point out that the Republican Party of Minnesota and candidate Pawlenty seem to think the laws of Minnesota don't apply to them."
On Thursday, the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board ruled that Pawlenty's campaign improperly cooperated with the party, which purchased raw footage from the campaign media consultant and produced a series of supposedly independent ads.
Minnesota's campaign finance laws limit a party's direct spending on a candidate to $20,000. They prohibit cooperation between the party and a campaign on so-called independent expenditures. The board determined the transaction was less than arm's length.
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