On July 1, 2004, the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) began hearing and deciding complaints alleging violations of the Fair Campaign Practices and Finance Acts (Minnesota Statutes Chapters 211A and 211B). Decisions are made by a panel of three Administrative Law Judges appointed by the Chief Administrative Law Judge. The three judge panel may dismiss the matter, issue a reprimand, impose a civil penalty of up to $5,000 and/or refer the complaint to a county attorney for criminal proceedings. Complaints filed with the OAH must be finally disposed of before the alleged violation may be prosecuted by a county attorney.
Every case is unique and each penalty will be selected to reflect the specific facts of the case. In order to assure some consistency from one case to the next, the three judge panel uses a penalty matrix as guidance. This matrix sets forth presumptive penalties. The three judge panel may depart from the presumptive penalty listed below and will explain the reasons for any departures.
Gravity of Violation
|Willfulness||Minimal/no impact on voters, easily countered
||Some impact on several voters, difficult to correct/counter
||Many voters misled, process corrupted, unfair advantage created
|Deliberate, multiple violations in complaint, history of violations, clear statute, unapologetic
||$600 – 1,200||$1,200 – 2,400 and/or Refer to County Attorney||$2,400 – 5,000 and/or Refer to County Attorney|
|Negligent, ill-advised, ill-considered||$250 - 600
||$600 – 1,200
||$1,200 – 2,400 and/or Refer to County Attorney
|Inadvertent, isolated, promptly corrected, vague statute, accepts responsibility
||$0 - 250
||$400 - 600
||$600 – 1,200|