Gov’t Watchdog Group Files Complaint Against GOP, Sutton

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A government watchdog group wants criminal charges filed against the former chairman of the state Republican Party for activities related to the governor’s race recount in 2010.

Democrat Mark Dayton won the governor’s race by a narrow margin over Republican Tom Emmer. And the recount that followed is still casuing problems for the state GOP.

Common Cause Minnesota filed a complaint Wednesday with the state Office of Administrative hearings, asking it to investigate criminal charges against former Republican Party Chairman Tony Sutton — and the party itself.

Minnesota’s cmpaign finance board has already fined the party and Sutton a total of $33,000 for illegally setting up a dummy corporation to solicit and accept contributions to pay for the recount.

But the board left it up to the Ramsey County Attorney to decide whehter to file any charges

Common Cause says the Republicans must be held accountable for what he says are unethical and illegal campaign finance activities.

“It is sort of empowering individuals to push the envelope of what’s acceptable when it comes to political spending,” said Michael Dean, of Common Cause Minnesota. “And you see groups, unfortunately, like the Republican Party, where they are trying to explore ways to essentially circumvent the law.”

Sutton resigned abruptly at the end of last year, leaving the party with almost $2 million in debt.

The party’s been trying to dig out of it ever since, and at one point, was facing eviction from party headquarters for non-payment of rent.

The Republican Party did not immediately return a request for comment.

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