Here's why Al Franken just returned $41K in campaign donations

Donations from an East Coast law firm to dozens of Democratic – and one Republican – politicians may have been improper,.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

An investigation into a Boston law firm has resulted in Democratic politicians returning more than $1 million in donations – including Minnesota's U.S. Sen. Al Franken.

The practices of Thornton Law Firm are now being probed by a the Federal Election Commission and the Boston U.S. Attorney's Office following an investigation by the Boston Globe and the Center for Responsive Politics in October highlighted some allegedly dubious methods at play.

As the Boston Globe explains, the asbestos law company encouraged their partners to give money to Democratic campaigns, with their donations later reimbursed by the firm as apparent "bonuses."

This, the Globe notes, appears to have been intended to skirt limits on how much companies can donate to politicians.

The Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) reveals Franken was one of the biggest beneficiaries of donations from Thornton Law, receiving $40,821 over several years. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren was the biggest single beneficiary, followed U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy and Senate Minority leader Charles Schumer.

Franken is among the Democrats who have returned their donations, with the Star Tribune reporting he paid it to the U.S. Treasury after learning from news reports about the firm reimbursing employees for their donations.

The newspaper notes the law firm donated to Franken's 2008 campaign, when he beat Republican Norm Coleman following a recount. A donation was also made during the 2014 election cycle.

Not everyone has returned the donations however. Those who haven't include Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Jack Reed and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is the only Republican to have received funding from Thornton partners over the years, the CRP says.

The company denies this wrongdoing, telling the Globe the reimbursements were deducted from each partner's "capital account" – effectively their stake in the company – rather than as bonuses, and argue that this is legal.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2020-11-27 at 6.26.50 PM

Minnesota nurse's story about her battle with COVID-19 goes viral

A month later, Ashley Walter is on a hard road to recovery.

Adam Thielen

Report: Still on COVID-19 list, Thielen not expected to play Sunday

Thielen was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve list on Monday.

Image from iOS (19)

Mask-wearing, distancing a common sight on MOA's Black Friday

Thousands of shoppers were out and about on Black Friday despite the COVID-19 situation.

Tim Walz

Gov. Tim Walz, MDH react to record-setting COVID-19 deaths

Minnesota can expect further bad news over the coming weeks.

covid-19, coronavirus

Record 101 COVID-19 deaths reported in Minnesota

The figures are from Wednesday, with no update provided on Thanksgiving.

Screen Shot 2020-11-27 at 9.29.12 AM

Target reveals its 'Cyber Week' online deals

The sales will run from Nov. 29 to Dec. 5.

Minneapolis police

Mayor Frey, Minneapolis police chief reveal new 'no-knock' policy

The new policy for Minneapolis Police Department was announced Wednesday.

Teddy Bridgewater

Coller: It's a what-if Sunday with Teddy Bridgewater's return

Matthew Coller writes a weekly Vikings column for BMTN, with more of his work found at Purple Insider.

Ambulance hospital emergency

15-month-old girl's death being investigated by police in Fargo

The child died four days after being found unresponsive.

Related

Here's why 3 of Minnesota's U.S. House races are so important this election

Democrats and Republicans see these races as important – here's an explanation.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand defends role in Al Franken's resignation

She was the first Democratic senator to call on Franken to resign.

Which Democrats might run to replace Al Franken?

The DFL Party will have to pick a candidate for a 2018 special election.

Al Franken says he won't be running for president in 2020

The Minnesota senator has been touted recently as a possible Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2020.

Beaten in 2014, Jeff Johnson announces another run for governor

Johnson received 44.5 percent of the vote in 2014.

Al Franken announces his resignation as Minnesota senator

It follows allegations of inappropriate conduct from multiple women.

Doug Wardlow committee fined $46K for campaign overspending

The Republican ultimately lost to Democrat Keith Ellison.

Video: Politicians including Al Franken and Paul Ryan asked who they're wearing

A reporter poses the question we've all been dying to ask D.C.'s male politicians.