GOP claims DFL, Dayton violated campaign rules

The Republican Party of Minnesota has filed a complaint with the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board that alleges the DFL party and Gov. Mark Dayton's re-election operation illegally coordinated during the campaign.

At the crux of the GOP's complaint are two campaign videos.

The first can be found on Dayton's campaign page. It's more than a minute of footage, featuring Dayton giving speeches, interacting with students, shaking hands with workers and chatting with cops.

One brief part of the video ended up in an ad paid for by the Minnesota DFL promoting Dayton's candidacy.

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Independent political groups are not allowed to coordinate directly with candidates, and that includes sharing video content. The GOP is asking the Campaign Finance Board to investigate whether the DFL and Dayton violated these rules.

Dayton spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci said the campaign didn't violate any laws.

"The campaign did not coordinate with the DFL party," she said.

The GOP's complaint was filed on Oct. 31, but only surfaced this week after the Independence Party of Minnesota issued a statement saying they supported it.

“We are pleased the Campaign Finance Board agreed to investigate the DFL State Party and Dayton campaign on this matter,” said GOP party chair Keith Downey.

Campaign finance board executive director Gary Goldsmith would not confirm or deny an investigation.

Similar complaints have been filed in the past.

In 2012, the DFL Senate Caucus had to pay a $100,000 fine for illegally coordinating photography and mailers with candidates.

In another case, the board found that the DFL House caucus used pictures and video footage of candidates already in the public domain, which did not constitute a violation of campaign finance law.

In its complaint, the GOP acknowledges that the DFL party may have poached video footage directly from Dayton's website.

"Though the contrast, saturation and sharpness of the two clips differ, these are the exact same video clips based on the alignment of landmarks and the frame," according to the complaint. "The clips either originated from the same source footage or the DFL party 'captured' the footage for [its ad] by using technology to copy the clip from the playback of the [Dayton ad]."

In fact, this practice is widely used by candidates and independent political groups, and exposes a loophole in campaign rules.

During the campaign, Republican Senate candidate Mike McFadden claimed that Sen. Al Franken gave video footage illegally to an independent group, though that footage was also widely available on the Internet.