On March 29, 2011, State Representative Ernie Leidiger was cited for speeding, going 74 in a 55 m.p.h. zone. Nothing terribly unusual about that. Leidiger was also cited for driving with a suspended license, which was dropped when Leidiger made his court appearance on June 24 at the Southdale Hennepin County Court. Leidiger was convicted of speeding, and paid a $178 fine at the courthouse that day.
Why does this matter? Well, it wouldn’t, if not for an entry on page 23 in Leidiger’s 2011 year-end campaign report filing.
This entry, cleverly coded as “Transportation”, appears to show that Leidiger paid his traffic ticket from his campaign’s bank account. The dollar amount, payee, and timing fit. That’s a problem, because paying off a traffic ticket isn’t one of the authorized uses for campaign funds, per the guidelines from the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board:
Gary Goldsmith, the Executive Director of the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, indicated via e-mail in response to a general question that “The general requirements for use of campaign funds are set forth in Minn. Stat. § 211B.12, and would not appear to include paying traffic tickets. In general, campaign finance money is to be used for expenses that will effect the vote in an election.”
However, Goldsmith also noted that any final determination would have to be the result of a complaint filed with the Office of Administrative Hearings, which has jurisdiction over the statute in question. As of yet, no one has filed a complaint over Leidiger’s use of campaign funds in such a way.
One has to wonder if Leidiger’s donors appreciate their contributions being used in such a way.
Here is Leidiger’s full campaign finance document for your review:
(Thanks to the tipster who brought this to my attention.)