Lawmakers consider campaign fundraising raffles

Published 10:22 am Friday, January 20, 2017

ST. PAUL  — One Minnesota lawmaker thinks that raffles to raise campaign money are the perfect way to spice up dull political parties.

Rep. Jim Newberger, Republican from Becker, said his bill would allow candidates to hold raffles of up to $3,000 to raise funds for campaigns. Democratic lawmakers took issue during Thursday’s committee hearing with portions of the bill that exempt the raffles from a gambling tax and the potential for abuse of campaign funds.

“I don’t know if you have been to any private organization raffles, but, generally, there is a lot of fun, a lot of excitement and a lot of energy,” Newberger said.

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That type of sizzle is sorely lacking at most campaign parties, he said, making it difficult to draw in donors and increase political participation at the typically droll affairs. Only campaigns would be allowed to hold raffles, with political action committees and parties themselves barred from holding similar events.

And the $3,000 prize limit would stop bigger campaigns from dazzling potential donors with big ticket items that lesser-funded campaigns couldn’t afford, Newberger said.

Democratic Rep. Laurie Halverson said the legislation’s proposed immunity from a gambling tax might send the wrong message to Minnesota residents about how lawmakers view themselves because the exception is typically used by charities, not politicians.