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December 21, 2004
A Costly Game Of Hide And Seek

The 21st Century Democrats, a PAC affiliated with the DNC, has found out that Minnesota means business when we demand full disclosure on donations. After ruling that the Democrats had slipped in hundreds of thousands of dollars without disclosing their source, the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure board issued a stinging rebuke and a six-figure fine:

Minnesota campaign regulators slapped a national Democratic political group with $317,950 in fines Tuesday for violating state campaign finance disclosure laws, the largest penalty of its kind issued in Minnesota.

The 21st Century Democrats is the same organization at the center of a campaign finance flap involving House Democratic leader Matt Entenza, whose $300,000 in contributions to the group prompted Republicans to file complaints with state and federal election watchdogs on Monday.

I posted about Entenza's checkbook politicking three weeks ago. At the time, I speculated that the 21st Century Democrats and Entenza would get off the hook, so this significant fine comes as a bit of a surprise. I argued then, as now, that the only people who benefit from the Byzantine legal codes surrounding campaign financing are the legions of lawyers who get to run up billable hours while controlling the flow of cash.

The only reform that meets any free-speech threshold is full and immediate disclosure -- which the 21st Century Democrats failed miserably to accomplish. If that's the Democratic vision of the 21st century, it looks a lot like the 20th century, only on a bigger scale. At least they'll have $300K less to hide.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 21, 2004 5:32 PM

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