ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota board that regulates campaign spending may still pursue stronger disclosure guidelines for groups that spend money to influence statewide ballot measures.
The state's Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board has continued to tinker with enforcement guidelines, in what could have wide ramifications for next year's statewide vote on whether to ban gay marriage in the state Constitution. Groups in favor of the marriage ban have accused the board of overstepping its authority, even as the leader of a group dedicated to government openness charged that the board's guidelines are overly timid.
"I think it's highly likely we're going to see millions of undisclosed dollars flow into the 2012 election," said Mike Dean, executive director of Common Cause Minnesota.
The marriage amendment has been most frequently cited in the board's ongoing deliberations over ballot measure disclosure guidelines, since for the time being it's the only statewide ballot measure in 2012. However, legislative Republicans have suggested they could push more issues to the November ballot, including a supermajority requirement to raise taxes in the Legislature or another measure to require a valid state photo ID in order to vote.
At issue are donations to groups advocating on either side of ballot campaigns. Direct donations to groups that set up political funds on either side of the issue are subject to disclosure. But campaign finance laws passed by state lawmakers in 2010 suggested a higher level of disclosure that would require other advocacy groups that donate to such political funds to report their own donor lists — even if such donations were not specifically earmarked to influence the ballot measure campaigns.