By Mark Fischenich
The Free Press
ST PETER —
Former state Rep. Terry Morrow has received permission from state campaign finance regulators to donate his re-election funds to Nicollet County to help offset costs of Tuesday's special election to fill Morrow's seat.
A three-term Democrat from St. Peter, Morrow sought re-election last year and was unopposed in the Nov. 6 election. About six weeks later Morrow announced to colleagues that he would be resigning his seat to take a job in Chicago, and the special election was called so voters could pick a replacement.
House District 19A includes part of Mankato in Blue Earth County and the Kasota area of Le Sueur County, but Nicollet County makes up the bulk of the district. Nicollet County Auditor Bridgette Kennedy estimated that Tuesday's election, combined with the Jan. 29 special primary election, would cost the county between $15,000 and $20,000.
While the counties are incurring significant costs related to the special election, much of the burden falls on cities and townships -- who cover the expense of paying election judges. The combined cost of the special election and special primary could top $70,000 when city and township costs are included.
The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board ruled Tuesday that Morrow could, under state election law, donate his campaign funds to Nicollet County to help defray the costs of the special election. Speaking on KTOE radio Thursday, Morrow said he has approximately $11,000 in his campaign fund and will attempt to distribute it in a fair way to all three counties.
State law prohibits former candidates from converting campaign funds to personal use when dissolving a campaign committee. But the funds are often contributed to charity or political parties when a politician retires.