St. Paul legislator Cy Thao fined over campaign spending

Thursday, February 4, 2010

State Rep. Cy Thao, DFL-St. Paul, was ordered Wednesday to pay the state $4,721 to settle questionable spending practices from his 2006 and 2008 re-election campaigns.

The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board determined probable cause exists to believe Thao overpaid relatives and friends for campaign literature and office space and falsely categorized lawn sign expenses. As a result, Thao, who served as his own campaign treasurer, was ordered to repay $1,721 in state campaign subsidies and to pay a $3,000 civil fine.

Thao, who is Hmong, contested the finding and said he might ask the state Human Rights Department to look into whether the case reflects any racial bias. He said he hasn't decided whether to appeal.

The finding stems from a complaint filed by Nathan Haase on Oct. 22, 2009. Haase could not be reached for comment.

The complaint, however, accused Thao of paying a brother-in-law $3,000 for literature design purposes, paying $2,000 for office space when one may not have existed and listing expenses for "lawn sign'' that actually were for putting up the signs. The board said some of the office rent went to a corporation owned by Thao and his wife.

Thao disputed accusations he overpaid for the literature, saying he paid less for it than he once paid a white woman for similar work.

"There's one piece the board and I agree on — there is nothing wrong with me paying these people,'' he said. "The disagreement is how


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much.''
The board said Thao used services such as a fax and copy machine and telephone at the office but that payment for "office rental'' wasn't accurate. It said Thao characterized the payment as being for a package of services.

Thao said he would have provided a more detailed explanation for the lawn sign expenses if he knew one was needed.

"If they want me to be more specific and say, 'labor for lawn sign,' I have no problem with that,'' Thao said. "I am not trying to hide anything.''

Thao has 30 days to make the payment to the board.

He was elected in 2002 and has been re-elected three times. He faces a challenge from within his own party for the upcoming endorsement.

Dennis Lien can be reached at 651-228-5588.

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1 hlub:

Diane February 4, 2010 at 9:41 PM  

oh my! i met him in person at a workshop in 2002... this is interstin

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