Leidiger treasurer fined $300 over campaign-paid speeding ticket [UPDATED]

The first shoe has dropped in the Rep. Ernie Leidiger campaign-paid speeding ticket fiasco, as Leidiger’s treasurer Steve Nielsen has been fined $300 by the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board for knowingly filing a false campaign finance report.

The CFPDB complaint was filed by Steve Timmer.  You can read Timmer’s account of the situation at The Cucking Stool.

You can read the entire decision here.  Here’s an important passage from the findings:

The responses to the complaint show that Representative Leidiger was on his way home from a late session of the legislature when he received a speeding ticket. Representative Leidiger therefore rationalized that the fine could be characterized as an expense for serving in public office, which is an allowed noncampaign disbursement. Although Mr. Nielsen did not initially agree with Representative Leidiger, Representative Leidiger ultimately persuaded Mr. Nielsen that this characterization was justified.

Representative Leidiger and Mr. Nielsen then discussed how to describe the payment on the year-end report. According to Mr. Nielsen’s statement, Representative Leidiger did not want to call the payment a speeding ticket because he did not want to draw attention to the fact that he had paid this expense with campaign funds. Representative Leidiger eventually convinced Mr. Nielsen that they should use the word “transportation” to describe the payment on the year-end report.

Mr. Nielsen states that, in hindsight, it was poor judgment to call the expense “transportation.”

Yes, it was poor judgment.  It’s too bad for Nielsen that he allowed Rep. Leidiger to convince him to go against his better instincts, and that the statutes require that Nielsen be on the hook for the penalty.

Meanwhile, the second shoe is poised to drop.  The first hearing in the DFL Party’s complaint against Leidiger and Nielsen was this morning.

[UPDATE]:  Judge Luis has ordered the parties to submit motions for summary judgment or motions to dismiss by April 18.  The parties will then have until April 30 to respond.  A panel of three judges will review the motions and make their decision (likely in mid-May) whether to grant one of the motions or to move on to additional evidentiary hearings on this issue.

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8 Responses to “Leidiger treasurer fined $300 over campaign-paid speeding ticket [UPDATED]”

  1. Poor Ernie. Everybody is picking on him. He is a poor excuse for a previous officer in the Navy..

  2. Hurray! All of the time and effort wasted by the DFL for what… What a sad bunch. Timmers should be ashamed of himself. I bet he was a great hall monitor. Held his up high everytime someone ran to the bathroom, and he ratted on them. Hurray for the petty. Hurray!

  3. Hey John – the rules are there for a reason and should be followed by members of all parties. The system is set up to be self-policing or through what you have characterized as a tattle-tail or hall monitor system of reporting. That’s just how it works and sometimes tends to emphasize the pettiness of politics. It’s also the way serious problems are detected (I am not saying that this is a serious problem).

    On a side note, I appreciated and wanted to thank you for your editorial letter a few weeks ago in the Herald. I think it draws attention to a serious issue in the family courts in Carver County right now. Thanks.

    • It’s frustrating to me that it was being fixed, but that wasn’t enough for some. They felt the need to file, knowing full well the problem was under resolution. To me, that’s just childish, hence the hall monitor comment.

      It’s a prime example of what’s wrong with politics today, and why good people are afraid to get in the ring. They know that every past mistake they’ve made, or will make, no matter how trivial, will be blown out of proportion by the otherside. Some think they’ve won something here. How much time and effort was wasted on this? And for what? What was accomplished?

      Some petty punks are wasting valuable time forcing an investigation into something that was already being repaired. Yippee!

      And thanks Laura. I really think there are some terrible things going on in this county, aside from petty punkish partisan baloney.

      • I would argue this wasn’t a trivial mistake. Based on the testimony taken by the CFPDB, Leidiger and Nielsen knew that they were playing loose with the law, and they hoped no one would catch it. Someone did catch it, and now they have to take the consequences. (To mix metaphors, fixing it once you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar isn’t good enough.) That’s pretty much the extent of it. No one has suggested this is a serious offense, but violation of two state statutes is more than “trivial”.

  4. Yes, but Sean, there were assurances by the CFPDB that if the correction was made, that there would be no action taken. The correction was made, but someone pushed. That’s what makes this sickening.

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  1. We Can Do Better Carver County - September 25, 2012

    […] Finance Violations from Brick City Blog:  MNCFPDB […]

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