Board rules Rybak used mayoral funds for Gov. campaign

The Campaign finance board’s ruling came the same day Rybak made his gubernatorial run official.

Robert Downs

Two days removed from his landslide victory in the Minneapolis mayoral elections, incumbent R.T. Rybak made his run for governor in 2010 official Thursday by filing to create an election committee. The filing fell on the same day the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board ruled that Rybak had 15 days to create a gubernatorial campaign committee. In a suit filed by the Republican Party of Minnesota , the board found that Rybak used mayoral committee funds for his gubernatorial campaign. The findings put heavy emphasis on how a survey financed by the R.T. for Minneapolis Committee was used for the benefit of RybakâÄôs gubernatorial campaign. The board ordered RybakâÄôs new committee to pay the R.T. for Minneapolis Committee $26,500 in reimbursements. Rybak’s attorney argued that the survey was for his mayoral campaign. The survey was sent to many voters outside Minneapolis city limits and asked citizens to rate how favorably they regard a number of officials, among them Rybak and four DFL candidates for governor. The survey also asked citizens to rate the same candidates based on name recognition, and to mark their confidence in several of RybakâÄôs statewide policies. The ruling will not be a large setback to RybakâÄôs campaign but may prove to be distracting, Lawrence Jacobs, director of the University of MinnesotaâÄôs Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, said. âÄúIt will be an irritation, but I donâÄôt think it will represent a long-term problem,âÄù Jacobs said. Rybak waited to establish the R.T. Rybak for Governor Committee so he would not jeopardize his mayoral elections, Jacobs said. âÄúHe did not want his money for governor to interfere with his re-election campaign,âÄù Jacobs said. Although the boardâÄôs ruling and the timing of the filing may seem to coincide, RybakâÄôs filing was no surprise. For months, Rybak has been speaking with delegates and potential supporters, attending gubernatorial forums. He also picked up the endorsement of Teamsters Local 120. Rybak told reporters after the elections Tuesday that he did not plan to announce his run for at least another month. The announcement was not highly publicized, as Rybak did not hold a press conference or send a press release. In his e-mail, he described his vision for the state of Minnesota. âÄú[People] are looking for leadership focused on more jobs, better schools and affordable health care,âÄù Rybak said in the letter. âÄúThey want to build a world-class transportation system and a clean energy economy.âÄù With his announcement, Rybak joins 11 other candidates for the Democratic nomination. Some of RybakâÄôs opponents questioned why he waited to create his committee. âÄúI never understood why he didnâÄôt open a committee like the rest of us,âÄù state Sen. Tom Bakk said , âÄúbut he decided not to do that for whatever reason.âÄù Former senator and current candidate Mark Dayton said he isnâÄôt convinced Rybak will be selected as the DFL candidate. âÄúAt this point, I donâÄôt know whether R.T. will be one of the opponents in the DFL primary or not,âÄù Dayton said. âÄúIf IâÄôm governor, heâÄôll be mayor, and I look forward to working with him in that capacity,âÄù Dayton said. âÄúI consider R.T. a friend.âÄù DFL candidates for governor now include Rybak, Bakk, Dayton, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner , state Rep. Paul Thissen , Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher , former state Rep. Matt Entenza , former state Sen. Steve Kelley , state Sen. John Marty , lobbyist Peter Roess , state Rep. Tom Rukavina and perennial candidate Ole Savior. There are currently eight announced Republican candidates.