Final tally for Leidiger’s speeding ticket: $978

A three-judge panel at the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings concluded the case against Rep. Ernie Leidiger and his campaign treasurer (and Carver County GOP Chair) Steve Nielsen Monday, by unanimously finding a violation of Minnesota Statute 211.B12 (7) and assessing a civil penalty of $500 against the two gentlemen.

Instead of finally taking responsibility for their actions, however, Leidiger and Nielsen went out swinging in their responses to the charges, though, continuing to insist that paying speeding tickets out campaign funds is permissible under the cited statute because it occurred “in the line of duty” and because Rep. Leidiger is a large donor to his own campaign.  Even more outrageously, Leidiger and Nielsen suggested that the Minnesota DFL Party, who raised this complaint, be required to reimburse Leidiger and Nielsen for the cost of the speeding ticket and Nielsen’s $300 fine previously paid to the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.

So the final tally for the Leidiger speeding ticket fiasco:  1 speeding ticket, 2 state statutes violated, and $978 in expense ($178 for the ticket itself, $300 in fines to the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, and $500 in fines to the Office of Administrative Hearings).

The entire order by the Office of Administrative Hearings is below.  It really is worth the read.


28 Responses to “Final tally for Leidiger’s speeding ticket: $978”

  1. And as is often the case with the DFL, nothing was accomplished here. Despite originally having a deal to correct the situation without incident, some petty DFL hack filed a complaint for something so ridiculous. All the money came from the same person anyway. This is mere semantics, and the outcome was the same no matter how the ticket was paid. Either way it came from Ernie’s pocket.

    I’m sure the partisan hack Timmers will have some smug satisfaction that something was actually accomplished here. He couldn’t be more mistaken. I hear how these folks want people to work together and to compromise, all whil;e sticking knives in people’s backs. What a sad individual this complaintant must be. I guess he gets his jollies from this kind of useless activity. Personally, I’d be ashamed to be associated with such a petty punk.

    • The law is clear. His treasurer admits he didn’t support the use of campaign funds, but got bullied into it by Leidiger (a seemingly consistent pattern, I’ve heard).

      Public officials owe us ethical and honest behavior at all times. The people deserve to know when public officials violate the law.

      Once money is deposited into a committee account, the funds belong to the committee and may only be spent according to the law regardless of where those funds came from.

      It makes me wonder what other unethical and/or illegal activity he engages in and tries to justify.

      • I’m not saying it wasn’t wrong. I’m saying they had a deal to make it go away, until this petty complaintant got word that it was being handled without penalty, then he had to rush a complaint. Couldn’t leave it alone. And he wonders why the parties can’t work together. Gee, I wonder why?

        This is perfect example of the DFL views compromise. It means come to thier side and do what they say. There was a compromise arranged in this case. But the DFL couldn’t have that. When they say compromise, they mean capitulate, cave in, give up. That’s not compromise.

        • John, maybe you and the rest of the Carver County GOP need to take some refresher classes on how campaign finance law works in this state — over the last couple of years, your group has had a lot of trouble with these sorts of issues. Let’s point out a couple of things. The CFPDB isn’t in position to “make a deal” on anything. Their role in the process is to be the judge of complaints brought under one of the two principal state statutes that govern campaign finance. They can’t initiate anything on their own, just as a judge can’t initiate charges against an individual or negotiate a plea bargain without there being a plaintiff bringing a case to them. The CFPDB doesn’t have jurisdiction over the other statute — that’s OAH territory. They certainly had no power to “make a deal” regarding a statute they don’t enforce.

          Second, this is a case where a state legislator broke two laws (three if you count the speeding violation). The law should be enforced. And to hear Ernie Leidiger’s supporters complaining about a lack of compromise is rich. Remember, Leidiger ran in 2010 on NOT compromising any more with the DFL.

          This could have been taken care of before the initial report was filed. It wasn’t. Once they got caught, Leidiger and Nielsen could have admitted their mistake, apologized, and moved on. But they haven’t. To this day, they continue to assert that they were within the right, even after two enforcement agencies have ruled against them. Just look at the most recent amendment to the 2011 Leidiger campaign finance report.

      • Let’s not be so silly as to pretend these kind of campaign violations belong to only one party..

        And once again, you miss the point on the complaint. Has Steve Timmer not filed a complaint, the adjustment to the report would have been accepted, and the case would have been closed. But rather than accept that outcome, Steve ran off and started whining before the repair played out, as clearly noted on this blog.

        Before the complaint was filed, the campaign had agreed that this was a bad idea and was making the corrections. After the complaint continued to be pushed, and pushed, and pushed, there was nothing to gain by accepting the charges, and so the team fought for themselves, defending their actions.

        In the end, Steve Timmer managed to show how petty he can be, sticking his nose in something so trivial as to have absolutely no impact on a single voter. No one was bilked out of any money. The campaign larglely is made up of Ernie’s own money, and even after the charges and fines are paid this affects not a single tax payer, other than Ernie himself.

        A normal human being might have seen the report, and that Ernie and Steve were fixing it, and thought, good. They’ve learned they can’t do that. But Steve Timmer is a hyper partisan hack and was determine to urinate all over this thing, making as big a stink as possible over something so ridiculously small.

        Let me ask you this. How much do you think it cost the agencies and the state by pursuing this nonsense THAT WAS ALREADY ACCEPTED AS CORRECTED!! Why in God’s name wouldn’t he just let that be? They fixed the report, the funds were transferred. tat could have been the end of it if this petty punk had kept his whining mouth shut. It’s no wonder we have such huge spending issues, when you’ve got punks like this driving up costs, and for what? Nothing was accomplished here. Nothing!

        • Certainly there have been people from both sides of the aisle who have run afoul of campaign finance law. I don’t condone any such behavior from any politician. I’m just pointing out that in the last couple of years, the Carver County GOP has had its share of issues, from Jim Nash to the aborted auction of officials last year to this situation. Presumably Bruce Schwichtenberg will be heading down to file on Tuesday unless he wants trouble with the CFPDB as well (I assume the Ortman campaign won’t let that slide).

          Again you demonstrate your fundamental misunderstanding of the statutes in question here. The law is what it is, not what you (or Rep. Leidiger or Mr. Nielsen) wish it to be. Please read the decisions again to learn what in fact is allowed under the statutes in question.

          If he’s been so wronged, perhaps Rep. Leidiger can contact someone who actually knows how to get legislation passed to do something about these horrible inequities in the law that prevent politicians for paying for their personal foibles out of campaign money.

          And contrary to your assertions, something indeed was accomplished here — people who broke the law were held accountable.

          • Although to be fair to the rest of the Carver County GOP, Leidiger and Nielsen have taken their campaign finance violations to a whole new level.

            For instance, the Jim Nash situation was different. Nash was found to have not made a required disclosure of his personal spending in his run for the 34A nomination — a more reasonable mistake to make, as Nash wasn’t required to register with the campaign board because he did not accept donations. Even though the complaint was brought by a partisan (the then-chair of the local DFL) — Nash accepted responsibility and corrected the error.

            There’s precisely nothing in the law that would indicate paying a speeding ticket would qualify as a campaign expense. And after initially admitting their mistake, Leidiger and Nielsen have chosen to go down petulantly. Witness their latest filing to the CFPDB, for instance, where they continue to insist they are right.


      • I never met anyone so obtuse. You clearly will never get it. Had Timmer not complained, the matter was over. Lessons were learned, and the matter would have been resolved without wasting a whole lot of time and money.

        But partisan hacks just can’t let things go like that. A mistake was made, it was admitted, corrected, and the matter would have been over. That wasn’t good enough for the DFL. Timmer. when he read on this very blog, that the problem had been corrected and a resolution was in place, decided rather than accept the outcome that was arranged, that he had to take this to another level. And that makes him nothing but a petty partisan hack. We don’t need punks like him anywhere near our political system. Our parties will never get along as long as punks like Timmer keep mucking up the works.

        • If you want to keep so-called “petty partisan hacks” off your back, don’t break the law. When you break the law, you’re going to face consequences for it.

  2. Carver Co Citizen Reply May 29, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    There were a lot of people discussing this matter. If Timmers hadnt come forward, others would have. Its about accountability. We have too many politicians who think they are above the law. Neilsen testified that he discouraged the use of campaign funds for Leidiger’s fine, yet filed it anyway and took the risk. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to believe they would have amended the report absent the publicity. Actions have consequences. Own up, pay up, move on.

    • If I were a DFL’er, I’d be a little angry over the amount of money they DFL spent pushing this. They coughed up several grand in legal fees to bring a complaint that yeilded a $500 fine? I’d call that a win on the financial battlefield. All to make a big deal out of nothing. Your party looks pretty pathetic on this issue, and I fully intend to spread the word on that aspect of how ridiculous you can be, all the while asking for some working relationship with our folks. Yeah, right. Your colors on full display.

      • Mr. Brunette, you do realize that your constant lashing out with vicious personal attacks hurts the image of the party?

        Besides, your words above that “Before the complaint was filed, the campaign had agreed that this was a bad idea and was making the corrections” are not supported by the words and actions of those involved:

        “We thought it was allowable, we fought it and we lost,” Leidiger said. (Source: Chaska Herald)

        To me (and most reasonable people), this doesn’t match up. Either it was an unintentional mistake in which checkbook was used (a claim you made earlier in this forum), or it was a deliberate action done with the knowledge of the candidate and the other parties involved (which is what their words seem to say). Either way, there is a legal process to investigate those concerns, and it was followed. A penalty was issued, reasonable to the initial action.

        Degrading and demeaning people doesn’t change the contradiction between the two versions; if anything, it makes it harder to know which version of the story to believe, and drives people away from the party as the blind defense of partisan allegiance replaces reasonable discussion and accountability. In this matter, you seem to only be muddying the waters, an observation I and others who have followed these matters seem to agree on. Yes, the amount in question was small, and yes, there is a partisan pursuit of the matter. But your tone only adds to the problem, and seems to be a disservice to Mr. Leidiger and the party.

      • The reason you are confused about the events, is you’re not paying attention to the whole story. You have to follow the actual chain of events.

        When is first became clear that the original filing wasn’t going to be accepted, I personally informed Steve, and he made the actions to correct the situation. He talked with the campaign finance board, and they made a deal that if he filed a new report, and the money was refunded to the campaign, that this matter would be over. Steve did that.

        After hearing that a deal wa in place, on this very blog, Steve Timmer decided it was time for further action. He filed a complaint and the board had to fine Steve, despite having already submitted the change.

        After being summoned to court, both men had no choice but to defend their stance on the matter. It was then that they explained thier rationale for doing this in the first place. That’s why you see two different versions of what you assume is the truth.

        Timmer blew this thing out of proportion. And the DFL ran with it. They spent a lot of money going after something that had resolutions already in place. If you don’t find that at least a little bit slimy, well, God help you. I know if I were a contributor to the DFL, I’d think it’s a waste of my donations to fund such a petty excercise that amounts to a $500 fine.

        The original filing was a bad idea. The actions taken after the correction were worse. The filing infraction cost no payer as much as a nickel. But the actions by the DFL cost thousands of dollars from DFL donors, and who knows how much to the state for chewing up court time for something so ridiculous. It was a petty move on the part of Timmer, and the DFL. And in the end it hurt them more than it did us. And I plan to make that clear to the public, because I think the DFL has much more egg on it’s face over this than Ernie or Steve do. This was slimy politics pure and simple. And I stand by my statement this behavior is why so many hate politics, and that the last thing we need is people like Steve Timmer anywhere near it.

        If your party really wants to get along with ours, than they should have had fortitude to take the high road on this matter. They could have simply allowed the correction to take it’s course, and they’d have something to use going forward. Now they come off looking hyper partisan, foolish, and irresponsible. A recipe which drove me as well as many others from that party years ago.

  3. While discussing this with my liberal brother on Facebook, I came up with the perfect anology for this situation.

    Years ago, in another city, I had a 69 Camaro where the exhaust system rotted and fell off, and I immediately made an appointment to get stainless steel dual exhaust put on, but it meant I had to wait a bit for the parts to arrive at the shop. While driving to work a few days later, I was pulled over by a state trooper and given a “fix it” ticket. I told the officer I already had an appointment, and looking over my beautifully restored “sleeper” Camaro, he said, that will really make it sound nice, but don’t make it loud.

    Two days later, still one day before my appointment, I took the car to run to rent a movie, and get some milk from SA. Before I left, my nutty neighbor ran out, got my license plate number to call the police. I told her, I had a fix it ticket, and the car would be in the shop in the morning, but that didn’t stop this lunatic. When I returned home, the police were there. I gave them a copy of my fix it ticket, and explained I was having the exhaust fixed the very next day. They laughed and said this neighbor was always making calls complaining about something, including fireworks at the park, which were actually being shot off by the city for a summer celebration.

    The point is, the campaign finance board are like the police in my story. They issued a fix it ticket to the Leidiger campaign. The DFL is like the nutty neighbor. We certainly didn’t along well after that. Oh she’d be nice one minute offering cookies to my son, but then complaining about an electric saw when I was building my shed. Or listening to the radio while waxing my Camaro. Try as I might, there was just no way to get along with, as confirmed by the police when they’d be called to our neighborhood for others making too much noise for this lunatic.

    I mean, if that’s what yolu want your party to be, the nut job neighbor whom everyone knows is impossible to get along with, you’ve certainly accomplished that in this situation.

  4. John – You are hilarious! My mental image is of steam coming out of your ears every time you sit down to respond to this issue and I’m afraid you might be dizzy from all of the spinning. You called someone obtuse in an earlier post – for this issue at least, I suggest you look in the mirror. What you seem unable to comprehend is that Leidiger and Nielson were WRONG. Making a “deal” to correct the situation doesn’t erase it or mean that Leidiger’s constituents should never hear about it. They both abused the public trust and were called out for it. The system worked how it is supposed to work. That said, it is somewhat amazing that the public forgives and forgets a lot of things especially if the offenders just sincerely say “sorry, I messed up on this one.” But, that takes a certain strength of character that not everyone can muster.

    • But that’s just it Laura, THEY DID SAY TEHY MESSED UP! Did you ever read the letter to the campaign finance board where the issue was to be resolved? Steve admitted wrong doing, and submitted a corrected report! The matter had a resolution! They went on defense once the complaint was issued, and the DFL was pushing for fines! Of course they tried to justify their actions at that point. Were they just supposed to allow the DFL to leverage a huge fine, for something that affected no one?

      You state that the public trust was somehow violated. How so? Who was wronged by this infraction. There was zero impact to a single taxpayer, other than Ernie. It either came from his campaign fund, which was mostly his own money, or his personal funds. tax payers didn’t become affected until the DFL wasted the courts time and money on something so stupid? I can’t imaginer why you cannot understand that? It’s extremely obtuse!

  5. speeding tickets are just a way for the government to make money. its pure ridiculousness

  6. speed and they will get you and take all your money.


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