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Cash-Strapped Minn. GOP Buys Time To Pay Fine

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Republican Party received permission Tuesday to pay a $26,900 fine for violating campaign disclosure laws in installments rather than a lump sum, as it struggles with its election-year finances.

The state Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board approved the party’s request to pay the fine in four installments, giving the Minnesota GOP until the day before the November election to have it paid in full. The penalty stems from the 2010 governor’s race recount. Under the direction of its former chairman, the GOP set up a shell company to handle recount legal bills and steered donations there to avoid disclosure.

The party delivered a $5,000 down payment Monday and promised to make $7,000 installments in early September and October and pay the remaining $7,900 on Nov. 5.

“As you know, the financial position of the committee is not strong at the present time, including working capital and cash asset levels,” Secretary-Treasurer Bron Scherer wrote in requesting the extra time. The party would have had to pay the fine by Monday.

According to campaign reports, the GOP is almost $1.8 million in debt as it heads into the fall campaign season.

Meanwhile Tuesday, the campaign finance agency’s executive director, Gary Goldsmith, told board members that former party Chairman Tony Sutton has indicated he intends to pay a separate $3,000 fine in the incident by Monday’s deadline.

Reached later by The Associated Press, Sutton said he was working to come up with the money to pay the fine. He said he stands by his contention that regulators reached the wrong conclusion in their investigation.

“I’m paying it in large part to put this behind me,” Sutton said. “Appealing it would be horribly expensive and I’m unemployed. I just want to put this behind me.”

Sutton resigned last winter when the depths of the party’s money problems became known.

On Friday, a city prosecutor said she wouldn’t pursue criminal charges against Sutton for violating state campaign laws.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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