Minneapolis City Council Member Jacob Frey finished 2015 with $ 101,000 about 10 times up to Mayor Betsy Hodges, in campaign funds. He then had been confronted with the question: Can he use that cash to run for mayor?
On Tuesday the state’s Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board released a draft advisory opinion that says Frey can transform his council campaign into a mayoral campaign committee, also use the cash he increased as a council member in his bid to unseat Hodges in November.
The ruling, if it’s adopted by the committee Tuesday, would place Frey in a commanding financial position in what is shaping up as a challenging mayoral race, using Hodges challenged by Frey, civil rights activist Nekima Levy-Pounds, DFL state Rep. Raymond Dehn along with filmmaker Aswar Rahman.
“The draft view provides that the applicable statutes do not need Mr. Frey to register a new committee to the office of mayor, which he may amend the office of the present poll,” Jeff Sigurdson, manager of the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, stated in a letter to board members. “As a consequence, Mr. Frey is going to be able to use the cash now within his primary campaign committee for his mayoral campaign.”
Whether Frey could use his council campaign funds to run for mayor, before the ruling, it was uncertain. State campaign finance law appears to prohibit Frey from moving the cash he increased as a council offender into a effort committee for mayor.
Ginny Gelms, the Hennepin County election manager, said she thought “that you can move unused funds from 1 committee to the next, but these are topic, just like any other contribution, to contribution limits, which in this situation would be $1,000.”
Council members that have run previously for example Don Samuels, Gary Schiff and Hodges for mayor in Minneapolis have formed committees for their mayoral campaigns. They also have maintained their donations from 1 committee to the other under the authorized limit, which had been 500 before it had been increased to $1,000 in 2014.
However, Frey is currently looking to do something different and new. He would like to repurpose his council committee as a mayoral committee, and he asked the Campaign Finance Board for an opinion on if he could do this.
Sigurdson explained that in his 16 years on the Campaign Finance and Disclosure Board, nobody has ever attempted to do this, and he can’t find proof of it in previous years.
However, the draft advisory opinion issued Tuesday concluded that state law defines an effort committee as “the only political committee designated by a candidate for election for any town office” and that Frey may designate his existing committee as a committee to the office of mayor.
“We wanted to do so correct and by the publication, so I am pleased there is clarity,” Frey said in a statement Tuesday.
Hodges declined to comment.
The advisory opinion also mentioned that some other section of Minnesota law regulating state offices specifically allows for candidates to move cash from 1 committee to another as long as the new office sought has a greater contribution limit than the office below which the candidate increased money for the very first committee.
That law prevents somebody who had been a gubernatorial candidate from using their effort funds to operate to your state legislator, however, it enables for the contrary.
“There’s a mechanism in the country level that explicitly authorizes that, if a state senator needed to run for governor, attorney general or auditor,” said David Zoll, a lawyer for Minneapolis law firm Lockridge Grindal Nauen.
The opinion issued Tuesday mentioned that Frey is running for mayor, a office having higher contribution limits than the council office under which he has been raising cash.
If the board adopts the judicial opinion would have to cancel a challenge, Sigurdson stated.
New Collars for offender fundraising should be available in a little over a week. Hennepin County candidates need to file annual campaign fund reports for 2016 by Jan. 31.