Well, drat…


Davids cleared by campaign finance board

By Brian Voerding / Winona Daily News

Minnesota Rep. Greg Davids has been cleared of all charges that he took $7,000 from his campaign and failed to properly classify it.

The state Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board released its findings Wednesday in response to a campaign finance complaint filed against Davids in June, which alleged that the Preston Republican failed to provide enough information in his 2005 finance report for

out-of-district travel and postage ex-penses.

â??My favorite word for the day is â??dismissed,â??â? Davids said. â??Dismissed. Everything they came at us with was dismissed â?¦ I have the cleanest campaign finance records in the world.â?

The board agreed with the complaint that Davids hadnâ??t provided sufficient information for the reimbursements, but ruled in his favor after Davids provided detailed receipts. It concluded that Davids did not personally benefit from improper reimbursements and hasnâ??t systematically misused â??non-campaign disbursementsâ? â?? expenses that donâ??t count toward candidatesâ?? spending limits â?? to evade the limit.

The complaint was filed by Lanesboro residents Frank Wright and Peggy Hanson, and Harlin Taylor; Hanson ran unsuccessfully against Davids in 2004, with Wright serving as her campaign manager and Taylor as treasurer.

Wright and Hanson were unavailable for comment Wednesday. When they filed the complaint they said their impetus was to get Davids to provide adequate information on the expenses.

Allegations and responses

The complaint asked the board to examine several aspects of Davidsâ?? campaign in addition to travel and postage. Following is a paraphrased rundown of some of the boardâ??s findings:

Complaint: Davids couldnâ??t possibly have driven 996 miles on New Years Eve, as his 2005 finance report claimed.

Board: Davids provided itemized receipts that showed multiple trips over more than one day; he combined them into a single listing.

Complaint: Davids uses his Preston, Minn., office for both personal business and campaign purposes, demonstrated by business cards that lists the same phone number of his constituent services office.

Board: Besides one instance where Davids copied constituent thank-you cards in his office, there is no evidence to support the claim. Davids said his insurance business cards were printed in error and later destroyed.

Complaint: Davids, an insurance agent, was improperly reimbursed with campaign funds and taxpayer dollars for attending the National Conference of Insurance Legislators in 2004.

Board: The concern is understood, but the practice is allowed.

Expenses reclassified

During its investigation, the board discovered non-campaign disbursements that it ruled were improperly classified, including $315 in meal costs for Davids and others and $200 for a golf tournament. Davids agreed to repay the amounts to his campaign committee. Davids also reclassified $281 in postage when the board asked him to submit receipts.

Hanson, Wright and Taylor filed a similar complaint against Davids in 2004, which led to a $6,100 fine from the finance board. The board cited Davids for spending more than the state-regulated limit each year from 2001 to 2003. The charges stemmed from Davidsâ?? â??idea adsâ? that he ran in area newspapers those years, asking readers to suggest legislation. He claimed them as noncampaign disbursements; the board disagreed. The state Legislature reacted in 2005 by passing a law that allowed such ads.

Davids is seeking re-election this year to his ninth term; heâ??s running against DFL-endorsed Ken Tschumper, a La Crescent dairy farmer.

Reporter Brian Voerding can be reached at (507) 453-3514 or at bvoerding@winonadailynews.com.

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