Campaign finance board wrestles with $26 million hole in data records

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The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure board said Tuesday that it had found $26 million worth of data problems in its records late last year.

According to a Star Tribune report, the agency said problems have affected about 13 percent of all contributions from one campaign group to another going back to 2000.

The agency found an even greater disparity in campaign finance data than one conducted by the Star Tribune in November. The newspaper found at least $20 million was missing from data going back to 2001. The board included data from 2000 and found the additional $6 million in problem records, according to the Star Tribune.

The newspaper reports both investigations found problems in reporting consistency. In data released to the public, frequently one campaign organization reported giving the donations to another campaign, which did not report receiving it. The reverse is equally a problem, according to the Star Tribune.

Lawmakers on the House Elections Committee told the board they had to act quickly to improve the accuracy and accessibility of the records, following a December hearing.

The Star Tribune reports the board has been working since November to fix some of the errors. It has removed nearly $18 million of unreconciled data from its website. It also has added a disclaimer to its searchable website that the online data may include errors.

The board also is calling on legislators to approve a proposal to require politicians and political groups to promptly work with the agency to fix the errors. If approved by lawmakers and the governor the board could fine uncooperative campaigns $25 a day, up to $1,000.

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