Bourn hit with $1,600 fine for false campaign claims

A state panel has fined Brad Bourn $1,600 for knowingly and incorrectly declaring support from two Southwest legislators during last fall’s campaign.

Ruling on a complaint filed by Meg Forney, the runner-up for Bourn’s District 6 seat on the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the judges said Bourn never received written permission from state Sen. Scott Dibble and Rep. Frank Hornstein to list their endorsements. Their names appeared on a flyer sent to about 3,000 Southwest voters a week before the Nov. 3 election.

Because of the legislators’ popularity — both were elected with overwhelming margins — the judges said getting either legislator’s endorsement could have boosted Bourn’s win. He received 48 percent of first-round votes, compared to Forney’s 36 percent.

According to court documents, Bourn asked for Dibble and Hornstein’s support on a number of occasions, but they each time told him they would not make an endorsement in the Park Board race. A few times, they told him they wanted to help him, but “upon reflection,” Bourn said at a January hearing, he never received their written permission.

The judges ruled Bourn’s testimony wasn’t credible when he said he overlooked the mistake. Whether Bourn would have lost the election without the listing, however, the judges couldn’t decide.

The judges dismissed two additional complaints from Forney. Also dismissed was a complaint Bourn himself brought forward claiming Forney’s website incorrectly listed endorsements from supporters in her 2005 campaign.

In an interview with the Southwest Journal, Bourn said he would not appeal the amount.

“We’re just going to accept it and move forward,” he said.

He called the situation “a miscommunication under some unusual circumstances.”

Forney afterward said she wishes Bourn were more apologetic. The fine is severe, she said, and reflects the seriousness of his actions, which she believes were deliberate.

"It wasn’t a matter of who’s winning or not," Forney said. "This is just wrong."

In 2005, Commissioner Carol Kummer was fined $600 for knowingly using the initials “DFL” on campaign material despite never having received the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s endorsement.