The presidential campaign of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has been accused of delaying staff pay in order to boost the campaign's cash-on-hand figures at reporting time.
The allegation has come in a Daily Beast article that looks at several Democratic candidates that structure their liabilities in such as way so as to present a healthier picture of their finances at the end of fundraising quarters.
According to the article, FEC filings showed that Klobuchar's campaign spent around $55,000 per day through the end of June, but then "dropped a whopping $624,000 on the first day of April, including a $300,000 payment to the campaign’s digital vendor."
"By putting off the payments until then, Klobuchar was able to put the best possible spin on her presidential campaign’s financial position during the previous three months. If those expenses had come a day earlier, Klobuchar’s cash on hand figure would have been roughly $6.35 million. Instead, the campaign was able to claim roughly $7 million in reserves—a sum that placed her among the better-positioned Democrats in the presidential race."
It also says Klobuchar's campaign is one of four that appears to have "skipped a staff payday at the end of June," putting off the pay period till the beginning of July.
"Federal Election Commission records indicate that the campaign was otherwise paying staffers on the 15th and last day of each month. But no paychecks went out at the end of June, according to its second quarter financial filing."
Bring Me The News has reached out to the Klobuchar campaign for comment on the article, though the Daily Beast notes the campaign has not responded to several requests from its own reporters.
It's sparked a response from Republicans in Minnesota, with House Rep. Greg Davids (R–Preston), who has suggested that delaying pay could potentially be considered wage theft.
He says he's asked Minnesota's Attorney General Keith Ellison to investigate the matter "to ensure clarity for the next campaign finance filing period."
"If a major corporation delayed paying their employees to boost their quarterly profit report, people would be up in arms," Davids said. "I hope the Attorney General will clarify whether this is legal under our state's new nation-leading wage theft law."
Davids said that although delaying payments is a "common tactic for campaigns," state and federal law suggests that it's a questionable practice.
He cites a 2014 U.S. District Court decision that partly states that "late payments constitutes nonpayment" under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Klobuchar's presidential campaign is struggling, with her polling numbers regularly in the low single digits.
She now needs to hit a target of having 130,000 individual donors in order to qualify for the next round of Democratic debates in September, with FOX 9 reporting that she had more than 100,000 donors as of July.
Minnesota's new wage theft laws came into effect on July 1, though criminal enforcement sanctions don't take effect until Aug. 1, meaning that even if Klobuchar's campaign was found to have violated it, it likely wouldn't face any criminal action under the new statute in Minnesota.
The new law requires employers inform employees of the number of days in their pay period and their regularly scheduled payday. If any of this changes during the course of their employment, employees must be given notice of the change before it's implemented, per the National Law Review.