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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

SF 649

as introduced - 85th Legislature (2007 - 2008) Posted on 12/15/2009 12:00am

KEY: stricken = removed, old language.
underscored = added, new language.

Current Version - as introduced

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A bill for an act
relating to negative campaign advertising and elections; establishing a
voluntary Clean Campaign Council, a clean campaign pledge, and a clean
campaign advertising code; clarifying definitions of campaign expenditures and
independent expenditures; clarifying requirements for disclaimers on campaign
material; amending Minnesota Statutes 2006, sections 10A.01, subdivisions 9,
18; 10A.14, subdivision 2; 10A.24, by adding a subdivision; 211B.04; proposing
coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 10A.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1.

Minnesota Statutes 2006, section 10A.01, subdivision 9, is amended to read:


Subd. 9.

Campaign expenditure.

new text begin(a) new text end"Campaign expenditure" or "expenditure"
means a purchase or payment of money or anything of value, or an advance of credit,
made or incurred for the purpose of influencing the nomination or election of a candidate
or for the purpose of promoting or defeating a ballot question.

new text begin (b) "Expenditure" includes a cost incurred to design, produce, or disseminate a
communication if the communication contains words such as "vote for," "reelect," "(name
of candidate) for (office)," "vote against," "defeat," or another phrase or campaign slogan
that in context can have no reasonable meaning other than to advocate support for or
opposition to the nomination or election of one or more clearly identified candidates.
new text end

new text begin (c) "Expenditure" is presumed to include a cost incurred to design, produce, or
disseminate a communication if the communication names or depicts one or more clearly
identified candidates; is disseminated during the 45 days before a primary election, during
the 60 days before a general election, or during a special election cycle until election day;
and costs more than the following amounts for a communication naming or depicting a
candidate for the following offices:
new text end

new text begin (1) $500 for a candidate for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general,
secretary of state, or state auditor; or
new text end

new text begin (2) $100 for a candidate for state senator or representative.
new text end

new text begin An individual or association presumed under this paragraph to have made an
expenditure may rebut the presumption by an affidavit signed by the spender and filed with
the board stating that the cost was not incurred with intent to influence the nomination,
election, or defeat of any candidate, supported by any additional evidence the spender
chooses to submit. The board may consider any additional evidence it deems relevant and
material and must determine by a preponderance of the evidence whether the cost was
incurred with intent to influence the nomination, election, or defeat of a candidate.
new text end

new text begin (d) new text endAn expenditure is considered to be made in the year in which the candidate made
the purchase of goods or services or incurred an obligation to pay for goods or services.

new text begin (e) new text endAn expenditure made for the purpose of defeating a candidate is considered
made for the purpose of influencing the nomination or election of that candidate or any
opponent of that candidate.

new text begin (f) new text endExcept as provided in new text beginparagraph (g), new text endclause (1), "expenditure" includes the dollar
value of a donation in kind.

new text begin (g) new text end"Expenditure" does not include:

(1) noncampaign disbursements as defined in subdivision 26;

(2) services provided without compensation by an individual volunteering personal
time on behalf of a candidate, ballot question, political committee, political fund, principal
campaign committee, or party unit; deleted text beginor
deleted text end

(3) the publishing or broadcasting of news items or editorial comments by the news
medianew text begin, if the news medium is not owned by or affiliated with any candidate or principal
campaign committee; or
new text end

new text begin (4) a cost incurred by an association for a communication targeted to inform solely
its own dues-paying members of the association's position on a candidate
new text end.

Sec. 2.

Minnesota Statutes 2006, section 10A.01, subdivision 18, is amended to read:


Subd. 18.

Independent expenditure.

new text begin(a) new text end"Independent expenditure" means an
expenditure deleted text beginexpressly advocating the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate,
if the expenditure
deleted text end new text beginthat new text endis made without the express or implied consent, authorization, or
cooperation of, and not in concert with or at the request or suggestion of, any candidate or
any candidate's principal campaign committee or agent. An independent expenditure is
not a contribution to that candidate. deleted text beginAn expenditure by a political party or political party
unit in a race where the political party has a candidate on the ballot is not an independent
expenditure.
deleted text end

new text begin (b) An expenditure is presumed to be not independent if, for example:
new text end

new text begin (1) in the same election cycle in which the expenditure occurs, the spender or
the spender's agent retains the professional services of an individual or entity that, in a
nonministerial capacity, provides or has provided campaign-related service, including
polling or other campaign research, media consulting or production, direct mail, or
fund-raising, to a candidate supported by the spender for nomination or election to the
same office as any candidate whose nomination or election the expenditure is intended to
influence or to a political party working in coordination with the supported candidate;
new text end

new text begin (2) the expenditure pays for a communication that disseminates, in whole or in
substantial part, a broadcast or written, graphic, or other form of campaign material
designed, produced, or distributed by the candidate or the candidate's principal campaign
committee or their agents;
new text end

new text begin (3) the expenditure is based on information about the candidate's electoral campaign
plans, projects, or needs that is provided by the candidate or the candidate's principal
campaign committee or their agents directly or indirectly to the spender or the spender's
agent, with an express or tacit understanding that the spender is considering making
the expenditure;
new text end

new text begin (4) before the election, the spender or the spender's agent informs a candidate
or the principal campaign committee or agent of a candidate for the same office as a
candidate clearly identified in a communication paid for by the expenditure about the
communication's contents; timing, location, mode, or frequency of dissemination; or
intended audience; or
new text end

new text begin (5) in the same election cycle in which the expenditure occurs, the spender or the
spender's agent is serving or has served in an executive, policy-making, fund-raising,
or advisory position with the candidate's campaign or has participated in strategic or
policy-making discussions with the candidate's campaign relating to the candidate's
pursuit of nomination or election to office and the candidate is pursuing the same office as
a candidate whose nomination or election the expenditure is intended to influence.
new text end

new text begin An individual or association presumed under this paragraph to have made an
expenditure that was not independent may rebut the presumption by an affidavit signed by
the spender and filed with the board stating that the expenditure was made without the
express or implied consent, authorization, or cooperation of, and not in concert with
or at the request or suggestion of, any candidate or any candidate's principal campaign
committee or agent, supported by any additional evidence the spender chooses to submit.
The board may consider any additional evidence it deems relevant and material and must
determine by a preponderance of the evidence whether the expenditure was independent.
new text end

new text begin (c) An expenditure by anyone other than a principal campaign committee that does
not qualify as an independent expenditure under this subdivision is deemed to be an
approved expenditure under subdivision 4.
new text end

Sec. 3.

Minnesota Statutes 2006, section 10A.14, subdivision 2, is amended to read:


Subd. 2.

Form.

The statement of organization must include:

(1) the name and address of the committee, fund, or party unit;

(2) the name and address of the chair of a political committee, principal campaign
committee, or party unit;

(3) the name and address of any supporting association of a political fund;

(4) the name and address of the treasurer and any deputy treasurers;

(5) a listing of all depositories or safety deposit boxes used; and

(6) for the state committee of a political party only, a list of its party units.

new text begin For purposes of clause (1), the name of a principal campaign committee must include the
surname of the candidate and the name of a political party unit must include the full
name of the political party.
new text end

Sec. 4.

Minnesota Statutes 2006, section 10A.24, is amended by adding a subdivision
to read:


new text begin Subd. 3. new text end

new text begin Termination delayed. new text end

new text begin A political committee, political fund, principal
campaign committee, or party unit that has made independent expenditures during an
election cycle may not terminate until the end of the election cycle.
new text end

Sec. 5.

new text begin [10A.38] CLEAN CAMPAIGN COUNCIL.
new text end

new text begin Subdivision 1. new text end

new text begin Findings. new text end

new text begin (a) The legislature finds that the political campaign process
is being overwhelmed with intensive campaign advertising attacks by candidates, political
parties, and outside interest groups, in which opponents are attacked with misleading or
even false information. The democratic process needs an open, vigorous debate on issues
and between candidates, and criticism of candidates is necessary and desirable as part
of that vigorous debate. However, much of the current negative advertising does not
contribute to the democratic process. These negative attacks stifle the First Amendment,
which was designed to secure "the widest possible dissemination of information from
diverse and antagonistic sources," and "to assure unfettered interchange of ideas for the
bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people." These negative attack
ads undermine democracy and the First Amendment in the ways set out in this subdivision.
new text end

new text begin (b) Many of the attack ads provide intentionally misleading and even false
information to voters. Flooding the public with distorted and inaccurate information from
candidates and other political organizations does not foster a vigorous debate, but drowns
out the ability of candidates, citizens, and other groups to present accurate information
on issues, visions, and priorities.
new text end

new text begin (c) Many negative attacks are designed to prevent rebuttal, coming too late for
even the best-organized campaigns to have a chance to respond. Others are designed to
prevent rebuttal by carefully targeted telephone calls or mailings so the candidate being
attacked is never even aware of the attack.
new text end

new text begin (d) Many negative attacks undermine public confidence in the democratic process
and political candidates, leaving many citizens so disgusted that they do not bother to vote.
new text end

new text begin Developing a statutory means of blocking the unfair, negative attacks that are
undermining the political process while strengthening the robust debate that is required
in a democracy is difficult at best. However, a voluntary means of discouraging the
unfair, negative attacks is desirable and necessary for a healthy democracy. Although a
voluntary means would not contain legal sanctions for violators, it could be successful
by creating social sanctions if the media and the public speak out against dirty ads and
campaign tactics.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 2. new text end

new text begin Purpose. new text end

new text begin This section is designed to foster the formation of a nonpartisan,
nonprofit council that would create a voluntary code to discourage unfair, negative attacks
while encouraging a robust debate on issues and candidates.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 3. new text end

new text begin Task force. new text end

new text begin The campaign finance and public disclosure board must
convene a task force whose goal is to establish a Clean Campaign Council modeled on the
Minnesota News Council. The task force may include representatives from the media,
nonprofit political "watchdog" groups, former candidates, and members of the public.
The council may request contributions from nonstate sources, such as foundations, the
media, and individuals.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 4. new text end

new text begin Clean campaign advertising code. new text end

new text begin (a) The council may establish a clean
campaign advertising code designed to foster fair and clean campaigns by establishing
voluntary restrictions on campaign communications to prevent smear tactics. In addition
to any other provisions of the code developed by the council, the code may include the
requirements set out in this subdivision.
new text end

new text begin (b) A campaign communication paid for or approved by the principal campaign
committee of a candidate that is in the form of a paid advertisement, billboard, mass
mailing, leaflet, or flyer that criticizes an opponent of a candidate must be limited to
statements by the candidate, not by a supporter of or surrogate for the candidate.
new text end

new text begin (c) A campaign communication criticizing an opponent of a candidate may not
contain a photo or audio or video recording of the opponent that has been distorted,
retouched, or morphed in any way. A recording must be played in real time.
new text end

new text begin (d) A campaign communication that criticizes an opponent of a candidate may not be
published in the last seven days before the primary or general election in a legislative race
or in the last five days before the primary or general election in a statewide race, except to
restate criticism published previously or to respond to criticism of the candidate by an
opponent, or a new position taken by an opponent, during that time.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 5. new text end

new text begin Enforcement of code. new text end

new text begin (a) A person may submit a campaign
communication to the council to determine whether it complies with the clean campaign
advertising code. During the nine months preceding the general election, the determination
should be made within 72 hours after the council receives the submission. During the last
three weeks before the primary or general election, the determination should be made
within 24 hours after the council receives the submission. The council may delegate the
determination to the staff of the council.
new text end

new text begin (b) If the communication is submitted before it is published, the council may grant
the publisher permission to display with the communication a clean campaign advertising
logo approved by the council. If the communication is submitted after it has been
published and the council determines that it violates the code, the council should notify
the person submitting it, the media, and all candidates in the race that it violates the code
and the nature of the violation.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 6. new text end

new text begin Clean campaign pledge. new text end

new text begin (a) The council may create a clean campaign
pledge. In addition to any other provisions of the pledge developed by the council, a
candidate who signs the pledge agrees to:
new text end

new text begin (1) abide by the clean campaign advertising code;
new text end

new text begin (2) publicly repudiate and urge voters to ignore any campaign communication in
support of the candidate, or in opposition to an opponent of the candidate, that violates the
clean campaign advertising code or that would violate the code if made by the principal
campaign committee of the candidate;
new text end

new text begin (3) not criticize an opponent in a campaign communication that is deceptive,
misleading, or taken out of context;
new text end

new text begin (4) not disseminate any campaign communication that appeals to hatred of or
discrimination against persons in classes protected by the Minnesota Human Rights Act;
new text end

new text begin (5) take full responsibility for campaign communications designed, produced, or
disseminated by the candidate's principal campaign committee;
new text end

new text begin (6) not use push-polling or any other organized telephone calling that criticizes an
opponent of the candidate;
new text end

new text begin (7) publicly repudiate and urge voters to ignore any push-polling or any other
organized telephone calling that criticizes an opponent of the candidate; and
new text end

new text begin (8) participate in at least two debates, if a candidate for legislative office, or at least
eight debates, if a candidate for statewide office.
new text end

new text begin The requirement in clause (8) applies only if one or more nonpartisan organizations that
do not endorse or support candidates are willing to sponsor them.
new text end

new text begin (b) The council may notify the media of the candidates who have signed the clean
campaign pledge.
new text end

new text begin (c) The council may consider a complaint that a candidate has violated the clean
campaign pledge and issue an opinion on the complaint.
new text end

Sec. 6.

Minnesota Statutes 2006, section 211B.04, is amended to read:


211B.04 CAMPAIGN LITERATURE MUST INCLUDE DISCLAIMER.

(a) A person who participates in the preparation or dissemination of campaign
material other than as provided in section 211B.05, subdivision 1, that does not
prominently include the name and address of the person or committee causing the material
to be prepared or disseminated in a disclaimer substantially in the form provided in
paragraph (b) or (c) is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(b) Except in cases covered by paragraph (c), the required form of disclaimer is:
"Prepared and paid for by the .......... committee, .........(address)" for material prepared
and paid for by a principal campaign committee, or "Prepared and paid for by the ..........
committee, .........(address), in support of .........(insert name of candidate or ballot
question)" for material prepared and paid for by a person or committee other than a
principal campaign committee.new text begin The committee name given in the disclaimer for a
committee that is registered with the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board must
be its full name as registered with the board.
new text end

(c) In the case of broadcast media, the required form of disclaimer is: "Paid for by
the ............ committee."

(d) Campaign material that is not circulated on behalf of a particular candidate
or ballot question must also include in the disclaimer either that it is "in opposition to
.....(insert name of candidate or ballot question.....)"; or that "this publication is not
circulated on behalf of any candidate or ballot question."

(e) This section does not apply to objects stating only the candidate's name and
the office sought, fund-raising tickets, or personal letters that are clearly being sent by
the candidate.

(f) This section does not apply to an individual or association who acts independently
of any candidate, candidate's committee, political committee, or political fund and spends
only from the individual's or association's own resources a sum that is less than deleted text begin$500deleted text end
new text begin $1,000 new text endin the aggregate to produce or distribute campaign material that is distributed at
least deleted text beginsevendeleted text end new text beginfive new text enddays before the election to which the campaign material relates.

(g) This section does not modify or repeal section 211B.06.