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Lillie among senators flagged for violation

Assistant Senate Majoirty Leader Ted Lillie of Lake Elmo concentrates during Tuesday debate on a Vikings stadium funding plan.

Ted Lillie was among 11 Republican state senators who were fined last month by an administrative panel for distributing literature that violated state law governing the dissemination of campaign materials.

A panel of administrative law judges ruled Aug. 31 that Lillie, of Woodbury, and the others were in violation of the law when they distributed state-produced flyers stamped with campaign-related graphics at precinct caucuses. The Minnesota DFL Party filed the complaint.

Evidence proved the senators violated the statute "by preparing or disseminating campaign material that did not substantially comply with the disclaimer requirement," according an order issued by a three-judge Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) panel that required the senators to each pay a $75 fine.

The statute requires a disclaimer identifying who pays for and prepares campaign-related material.

"While the inclusion of the (Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus) logo and links may have been due to an inadvertent or negligent error on the part of the Communications Department staff person, it nevertheless resulted in overtly political material being distributed at the Republican Party precinct caucuses," the ruling states.

Lillie said he was disappointed with the decision.

"Obviously, we want to follow the law," he said. "In this case, the only thing that the judges said we should have done differently is run the disclaimer."

According to the OAH order, neither the senators nor the man who ordered the literature - former Republican House Speaker Steve Sviggum - were aware that logos added by a Senate communications staffer were directly linked to a campaign fundraising website.

Lillie noted the flyers had been approved by nonpartisan Senate attorneys.

"This was vetted out properly," he said.

Senators argued that the flap over the literature was due to the staffer's "formatting error."

That argument didn't persuade the three-person OAH panel.

"The Panel concludes that while the violation appears to have been inadvertent and isolated on the part of the named Respondents, it was nonetheless a violation," the order states.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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