MN lawmakers don't like this State Fair mini-doughnut booth

A mini-doughnut booth with political ties is being debated.

Doughnuts seem like one thing that all political parties should be able to agree on, but a mini-doughnut booth at the State Fair is being debated at the state Capitol.

WCCO explains the booth is run by a group of Democrats from Ramsey County. A bag of doughnuts is $5, with profits contributing to local Democratic-Farmer-Labor groups, the station says.

So what's the fuss? There's no sign on the booth letting customers know that it's tied to a political party. And some Republicans take issue with that.

During a House State Government Finance Committee meeting Thursday, Rep. Randy Jessup from Shoreview called the booth a “black stain” at the State Fair, MPR says.

“Is it right to deceive people making a purchase and then having it become a political contribution? I don’t think it does,” Jessup said.

He's sponsoring a bill that would require political committees that sell goods or services (like the mini-doughnut booth) to “disclose to each purchaser, prior to a sale, that proceeds may be used to make a contribution.”

The bill has more than two dozen Republican co-sponsors in the House.

Last year, the doughnut booth, which is registered as the “10th Ward & Rural Ramsey County (fka DFL Donut Booth)," reported an income of nearly $206,000 from the “sale of donuts at fair market value at the Minnesota State Fair,” according to campaign finance reports, so the booth seems to be bringing in a lot of dough (sorry).

But the group’s chairman, Marc Asch, told the Pioneer Press it's no secret the booth is run by a political action committee, and that in the past, exposing the political ties has actually boosted the business.

“We enjoy the coverage because every time we get exposed, our business increases and we make great doughnuts,” Asch told the paper.

Asch told GoMN the booth has operated in its present location since the 1960s and is not authorized or sponsored by the DFL.

"All contributions are open and clearly reported to the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, and have been since the Ethical Practices Board was established in the 1970s," Asch said.

MPR says the committee didn't vote on the bill, but it could become part of a bigger budget proposal.

A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate.

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