SAINT PAUL, Minn.—Today, the House State Government Finance and Elections Committee advanced legislation authored by Rep. Ginny Klevorn (DFL-Plymouth) to restrict registered lobbyists or special interest groups from having unique access to a meeting room, hospitality area, or other event space where public officials gather to conduct legislative business. Rep. Klevorn drafted the bill in response to the approval the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board (CFB) gave Senate Republicans last fall to create a private meeting space for legislators, lobbyists and other dues-paying members.
“All Minnesotans deserve equal access to the elected officials representing them in state government,” said Rep. Klevorn. “Lawmakers have a moral obligation to deliver on meeting the needs of their constituents and communities- not the highest bidder who can afford to ‘pay to play’ in our shared democracy.”
The CFB’s approval allows a “pay to play” charge for membership and access fees to lobbyists for the privilege of meeting with Republican legislators away from the public eye. The full opinion is available here. Membership can be offered to non-elected officials at the Senate Republicans’ discretion.
Rep. Klevorn’s bill would close this loophole by expanding the existing ban on “contributions during the legislative session” to prohibit candidates, campaign committees, political committees, and political parties from soliciting and accepting at any time of year a contribution from a registered lobbyist if, in exchange, the lobbyist is granted special access to a meeting room or other event space where public officials are likely to gather. This also applies if the purpose of granting the special access is to facilitate informal meetings or socialization during legislative and special sessions of the legislature.
The bill now awaits a vote on the House Floor.