ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota’s campaign finance regulatory agency plans to implement new auditing procedures and seek a law change to deal with errors in its online database of political fundraising transactions, the executive director said Monday.
Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board manager Gary Goldsmith assured lawmakers that the agency would fix the problems. In a news story last month, the Minneapolis Star Tribune highlighted mismatches in data that make it tougher to track the flow of dollars through the political system.
The newspaper’s expansive review showed that donations by some political groups didn’t always show up as being received by another group or a candidate, or contributions marked as received were never documented by the donor group. The result has been years of data deemed unreliable.
“Citizens should know who’s giving and who’s getting,” said Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, as he opened the joint House-Senate committee hearing on the campaign database.
Goldsmith said his staff is making sure amended campaign reports make it into the searchable database, and said that those that require manual data entry will get extra review. He also said the board would seek additional power to compel political groups and candidates to promptly fix errors on their end and enable punishment against those that don’t cooperate.
He stressed that just because some reports line up doesn’t point to malfeasance.
“The fact these don’t reconcile doesn’t mean there is a violation, it means someone made a mistake,” Goldsmith said.
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