The Minnesota Court of Appeals hears oral arguments Friday over a recent levy campaign in the Anoka-Hennepin school district. The Minnesota Voters Alliance claims the district used taxpayer dollars for political purposes when it sent out mailers ahead of a 2011 levy vote.
Don Huizenga, a party to the complaint, says the mailers did not specifically ask residents to vote yes on the levy, but did try to influence them to support it.
"It has the same psychological affect. It's clear promotion of a ballot initiative," he said, arguing that the district should have filed a state campaign finance report because it spent general fund dollars on a promotional campaign. He also questions data the district used in the levy mailers. The mailer said the district received funding increases of less than 1 percent a year over the previous decade. Huizenga says the district's own audits show that increase was nearly 3 percent a year.
In a statement, district officials said the brochure was informational, not promotional, and therefore did not require a campaign finance filing. And they said school funding information in the fliers was accurate and based on state published funding figures.
An administrative law judge tossed out the complaint in April after district officials argued it was filed after a one year statute of limitations had run out.
Huizenga and the Minnesota Voters Alliance asked the appeals court to take up the issue.
Two out of three of the levy questions on the 2011 levy ballot ultimately passed, renewing a $48 million a year operating levy for 10 years and creating a $30 million a year technology levy also for 10 years.