St. Paul’s Better Ballot Campaign was fined $5,000 for violating campaign laws after a panel of administrative law judges ruled the group made false claims in endorsements of Instant Runoff Voting, which was approved by St. Paul voters on election day.
The No Bad Ballots Committee filed a complaint with the Office of Administrative Hearings over the endorsement claims at the end of October, then followed it up days later with a second complaint. At issue were listed endorsements of the voting system by the League of Women Voters, John McCain and Barack Obama. Under state election law, a campaign cannot claim the support of an individual unless that person has provided written permission.
“I was surprised that Santa Claus and Jesus Christ weren’t on the list,” Chuck Repke of No Bad Ballots told the Minnesota Independent last month. “You can’t be more deceptive than to claim the endorsement of the President of the United States when you don’t have it. I’m just flabbergasted.”
The ruling doesn’t affect the city’s implementation of IRV, scheduled to begin in 2011. Attorney Jay Benanav, who represents the Better Ballot Campaign, tells the Star Tribune the group could appeal the decision but hasn’t decided whether it will yet.