Finance board rules in favor of Schindler

Published 10:13 am Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The state campaign finance board has ruled in favor of a local DFL candidate in a case alleging  state finance violations.

In a probable cause determination reached following an Oct. 5 hearing, the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board ruled District 27A House candidate Gary Schindler did not violate state statutes when he accepted a nearly $2,900 donation from former District 27A Rep. Robin Brown’s Wedgewood Peruvian Pasos business account March 13.



The board found there was a lack of probable cause to prove that Schindler falsely reported the contribution as being from Brown’s campaign committee, Robin Brown for Minnesota.

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The board did find, however, that there is probable cause to believe that Brown’s campaign committee, Robin Brown for Minnesota, commingled committee funds in violation of state statutes.

An investigation was ordered into the allegation. A final decision is expected to be made at the board’s next meeting.

The Minnesota Jobs Coalition, a center-right group, in August requested a state campaign finance board investigate the donation.

The organization alleged in a complaint that Brown and the terminated committee violated state statute by making a campaign contribution with corporate funds, then filing a false campaign finance report stating the funds came from the committee.

Schindler said he was pleased with the board’s decision.

“I felt pretty confident that we had done the right thing from the beginning,” he said.

Schindler said he was under the impression from the beginning that the funds were excess campaign dollars — not funds from a corporation.

In a letter to the Campaign Finance Board, Schindler said he regretted not examining the check closer since it came from a business account.

“As soon as I learned that there were issues with the check received by the Brown campaign, I returned all of the funds to them within three hours of finding out about the reporting concerns,” he said.

Joseph Brown, Robin Brown’s husband and the treasurer of her campaign committee, said the board’s decision confirms that Schindler did not violate state statutes.

He has claimed that the donation — for $2,896 — was leftover money from his wife’s unsuccessful 2010 re-election bid.

He said closing the campaign account and consolidating the funds three years ago was a mistake, and he expects to receive a fine of up to $1,000.

“It is kind of an easy investigation,” he said.

Freeborn County GOP Chairman Brian Hensley said the Browns will likely be fined from the donation.

“I am glad to hear that Mr. Schindler did nothing illegal, even though from reading the report, the DFL-appointed chair of the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board had to stretch to fit his actions into the law,” he said. “The Robin Brown for Minnesota Committee and its treasurer, Joseph Brown, according to the findings — did violate state statutes and will face a very large fine.”

Schindler is running against Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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