Minnesota Capitol

Minnesotans want to make the state’s political campaigns better. They want to end anonymous contributions (dark money), unlimited contributions, dominance by special interests, and gerrymandering. That’s the findings of an October 2020 survey done by St. Cloud State University and commissioned by Clean Elections Minnesota (formerly Minnesota Citizens for Clean Elections).

Dark money disclosure: Minnesotans want to know who contributes to political campaigns and how much they give. Eighty-two percent of Minnesotans agreed “all contributions to political campaigns should be publicly disclosed.” Only 13% wanted contributions to remain private.

Contribution limits: A strong majority of Minnesotans want to limit how much wealthy individuals, corporations and special interest political action committees (PACs) give to campaigns. Fifty-five percent oppose U.S. Supreme Court rulings allowing rich individuals, corporations and PACs to contribute unlimited funds to electoral campaigns. Only 39% support the rulings preventing Congress and state legislatures from passing campaign limits.

Public financing: The majority of Minnesotans think special interest groups have too much influence. Fifty-eight percent support increased partial public financing of political campaigns to reduce dependence on private funding by special interest groups; 37% oppose.

Citizen-driven redistricting: Minnesotans think legislators have inherent conflicts in redrawing legislative and congressional district lines for themselves and their colleagues. Sixty-five percent of Minnesotans “prefer the creation of an independent citizens commission to draw those maps.” Only 13% prefer the current approach, in which legislators themselves redraw district lines.

Clean Elections Minnesota supports legislation to address each concern:

  • requiring all political contributions be disclosed to the public
  • legislative ratification of a constitutional amendment to forbid unlimited political contributions
  • increased state funding of campaigns to partially offset special interest influence
  • creating an independent, nonpartisan citizens commission to draw congressional and legislative district lines

Clean Elections Minnesota is a nonpartisan nonprofit seeking to improve Minnesota’s government by using education and advocacy to limit the ability of wealthy individuals and special interests to dominate our elections.

Poll findings by SCSU are based on telephone interviews done from Oct. 10, 2020, to Oct. 29, 2020, with a representative sample of 372 adult Minnesota residents. The margin of sampling error is 6.7% at the 95% confidence level.

George Beck is a former chair of the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, retired administrative law judge, and current chair of Minnesota Citizens for Clean Elections. This commentary originally appeared on MinnPost, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization whose mission is to provide high-quality journalism for people who care about Minnesota.