We agreed to abide by a spending cap, to receive some gubernatorial campaign money. Other groups are allowed to make "independent" expenditures, but they essentially couldn't talk to my campaign. I hired a media consultant to help create some TV ads. We shot a whole bunch of footage. What happened next is where the problem arose. The media consultant sold some of that footage to the Republican Party, which began airing ads with that footage included. My media consultant thought there was nothing wrong, as long as the party leaders were the ones who decided when and how the party was going to buy ads. The Independence Party filed complaints with the Campaign Finance Board, which found that the campaign may have violated the rules. Nobody had intended to do anything wrong, much less illegal. We accepted the finding without further contesting that matter. My campaign negotiated to accept the party's spending as counting toward our cap and to pay $100,000 or so in fines. The total impact was about $600,000.
The campaign paid the fines leveled and Pawlenty went on to win the election and serve two terms.
3. Pawlenty's campaign treasurer was charged with deceiving homeowners facing foreclosure
While Pawlenty was governor in 2004, his re-election campaign treasurer Ron Esau resigned after being charged with running a scheme that allegedly took advantage of families undergoing foreclosure on their homes. The "equity-stripping scheme...targeted families facing foreclosure by offering to buy their houses and sell them back for what they owed plus interest," the Associated Press reported at the time. Instead of selling the homes to the families facing foreclosure with just interest included, the company involved with Esau sold it back to them at full market value plus equity instead. Esau ultimately settled and paid restitution over the charges.
Pawlenty said he knew nothing of Esau's business practices and ultimately parted ways with him. "We have intentionally separated campaign activities, my official office and regulatory matters," Pawlenty said in a written statement in February 2004. "I am hopeful the concerns raised by Rob's private business practices will be addressed and resolved in a matter that is fair to all concerned."
Esau was later banned from dealing in residential mortgages, and the Minnesota Commerce Department fined him $10,000, half the amount recommended by Assistant Attorney General Michael Tostengard, who prosecuted the company.