Notable Campaign Complaint Decisions

MINNESOTA STATUTES CHAPTER 211B

False Claim of Support or Endorsement (Minn. Stat. § 211B.02)

  • Bicking v. Rybak for Mayor (7/28/09) (failure to get written permission)

  • Schmidt v. Cave and Maplewood Firefighters Assoc. (10/04/07) (statement that "Maplewood Fire" endorses candidate falsely implies endorsement by fire department)

  • Meinzer v. Jasicki (10/19/06) (photo of candidate in firefighting attire and logo of fire department not enough to imply endorsement by fire department)

  • Maloney v. Anderson (8/11/06) (use of term "reelect")

  • Stone v. Kummer (10/13/05) (use of initials "DFL" by non-endorsed candidate)

Disclaimer requirement (Minn. Stat. § 211B.04)

  • Riley v. Jankowski, 713 N.W.2d 379 (Minn. App.), review denied (Minn. 2006). (Disclaimer requirement found unconstitutional.) Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision
    NOTE: Minn. Legislature amended Minn. Stat. § 211B.04, effective June 1, 2010 applying to campaign material prepared and disseminated on or after that date. Please note, the Citizens United v. FEC decision may affect this statutory provision.

  • Gadsden v. Kiffmeyer, (11/1/10) (incumbent’s constituent informational mailing deemed campaign material but found to substantially comply with disclaimer requirement.)

False Campaign Material (Minn. Stat. § 211B.06)

To be found to have violated section 211B.06, two requirements must be met: (1) a person must intentionally participate in the preparation or dissemination of false campaign material; and (2) the person preparing or disseminating the material must know that the item is false, or act with reckless disregard as to whether it is false. Thus, the Complainant has the burden at the hearing to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondents either published the statements knowing the statements were false, or that they “in fact entertained serious doubts” as to the truth of the publication or acted “with a high degree of awareness” of its probable falsity. [1]

As interpreted by the Minnesota Supreme Court, the statute is directed against false statements of fact. It is not intended to prevent criticism of candidates for office or to prevent unfavorable deductions or inferences derived from a candidate’s conduct. [2] In addition, the burden of proving the falsity of a factual statement cannot be met by showing only that the statement is not literally true in every detail. If the statement is true in substance, inaccuracies of expression or detail are immaterial. [3]

  • Pahl v. Mucciacciaro (2/11/09) (claim that city council spent down reserve was knowingly false)

  • Jackson v. Downey (12/08/08) (claim that candidate did not support legislation was not false where candidate voted against earlier version of bill)

  • Sluss v. MCCL PAC (4/17/07) (claim that candidate refused to commit to issue not false where candidate refused to fill out questionnaire asking candidates for such commitments)

  • Posusta and Herbst v. Wojchouski and Patch (1/29/07) (statement that candidate “accosted and battered” a high school student knowingly false)

Election Day Prohibitions (Minn. Stat. § 211B.11)

  • Guy and Schimming v. Riverblood (6/05/09) (prohibitions against campaigning near polling place cannot be enforced on private property)

  • Van Klompenburg v. Clausen (11/09/06) (“mingling” with voters not enough to establish violation)

Legal Campaign Expenditures (Minn. Stat. § 211B.12)

  • Kaari v. Johnson, (3/2/10) (city council member found to have converted to personal use money contributed to her political committee)

Bribery and Solicitation (Minn. Stat. § 211B.13) (statute prohibits giving something of monetary value to induce voting)

  • Campbell v. Grant County Republican Party (8/04/08) (bottled water)

  • Hagen v. Evens (10/26/06) (ice cream)

  • Schauer v. Gillaspie (10/11/06) (notepads)

  • Wyckoff and Lane v. Peterson and Williams (4/25/05) (chicken dinners)

  • Kalil v. Knutson (9/10/04) (parade candy)

Prohibited Corporate Contributions (Minn. Stat. § 211B.15)

  • Republican Party v. Horner, (7/1/10) (candidate not found to have received prohibited corporate contributions in the form of polling data that was available free of charge)

  • Adams v. Anderson & Klatt True Value (11/19/08) (lawn signs on corporate property determined to be prohibited corporate contribution)

  • Rego v. 94 West Business Center, et al (10/31/08) (Federal Election Campaign Act governs contributions to federal candidates and preempts § 211B.15)

  • Sween v. Kelly and Hanson Marketing (10/28/08) (five page magazine article not a prohibited contribution under media exemption for news items)

  • Rossbach v. Hjelle, et al (6/06/06) (Because candidate paid for his lawn signs with a check drawn on his business account, he violated § 211B.13 by accepting a prohibited corporate contribution under § 211B.15)

  • Moses v. Roseville Properties (10/27/05) (prohibition against corporate contributions does not apply to partnerships)