In a little-noticed and quickly-buried development this week, the Minnesota’s Campaign Financed Board levied a $100,000 fine against the state’s Democrats for illegally coordinating campaign efforts.  The fine, one of the largest levied in state history, was for conduct involving an organized series of photo sessions with state senate candidates. 

The professional photographs were used in “independent” advertising on the behalf of 13 Democrat candidates for state senate.  Of the 13, 11 of the candidates won, flipping control of the state senate from Republicans to the Democrats.

Jim Carlson, Alan Oberloh, Vicki Jensen, Tom Saxhaug, Kevin Dahle, Kent Eken, Melisa Franzen, Laurie McKendry, Matt Schmit, Gregory Clausen, Alice Johnson, Susan Kent and Lyle Koenen were named in the Board’s investigation.

Of the 13 Democrat state senate candidates involved, several were running in Twin Cities suburban districts.  Three–Alice Johnson, Melisa Franzen and Gregory Clausen—were endorsed by theStar Tribune newspaper.  None of the three were senate incumbents in the last election: all three won.

My take after reading the Board’s report on its investigation is that control of the state senate rests in the hands of a group that cheated to win.  The matter involves no small sum: the illegal coordination represented campaign contributions of more than $300,000 above the legal limit.

Voters are owed more than a “we’re putting this matter behind us” explanation from everyone involved.