Some Republicans Lobbyists Fighting for Their Livelihood

The results of the 2012 election brought about one-party rule (DFL) in St Paul and many Republican lobbyists found themselves in dire straits with the significant loss of clients. This meant their influence fell largely on deaf ears for the last two legislative sessions since members of the minority party lacked the ability to affect any legislative outcomes.

This is one reason why we have seen the rise of Independent Expenditure (IE) groups here in the state. Some lobbyists, former elected officials and former Republican party staff, with plenty of time on their hands are dedicating their energies once again to changing the political landscape from blue to red. Since Republicans are able to cultivate money for political purposes, it is clear those with lobbying interests have shifted their attention from legislative pursuits to elections. They seek to go back to the future and recreate the 2010 results where Republicans control the House, but if current trends hold they will not be able to unseat US Senator Al Fanken (D-MN) or Governor Mark Dayton’s (DFL).  This is ironic, since both Franken and Dayton had to survive recounts to gain their seats.

As we follow the House races targeted and listen to the rhetoric from the IE groups and speak with some of the principals involved we gain the following insight. There is a highly simplistic approach each of these IE groups appears to be applying. It amounts to a three-pronged strategy in targeted legislative seats. These three consist of: 1) Seats where former Governor Mitt Romney (R) beat President Barak Obama (D). 2) Seats where voters supported the Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage. 3) Seats where the results were a close victory for the legislative victor.

We will be watching the campaign finance reports for a number of groups and will take the opportunity to highlight four at this time. They are: Minnesota’s Future, The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the Minnesota Action Network and the Minnesota Jobs Coalition. Each had collected and spent money during the pre-Primary period and their final their pre-General Election reports are due October 25th.

Minnesota‘s Future

Minnesota’s Future IE PAC is a construction of the political firm Weber Johnson Public Affairs which consists of Principals Joe Weber, brother of former Congressman Vin Weber (R) and Greg Johnson, former aide to Governor Tim Pawlenty (R), Republican political operative Chris Tiedeman, Mike Franklin, Emily Nesse and Holli (Drinkwine) Overbeke.

Minnesota’s Future Chair is Weber he is a registered lobbyist with only client, the Twin Cities Metal Association http://www.cfboard.state.mn.us/lobby/adetail/a6505.html. Johnson is Minnesota’s Future Treasurer and he also is a registered lobbyist http://www.cfboard.state.mn.us/lobby/lbdetail/lb1509.html with two registered clients, Elk Farm LLC http://www.cfboard.state.mn.us/lobby/adetail/a6083.html and Twin Cities Metal Association. Tiedeman is Minnesota’s Future Spokesperson and he also has only one client the Twin Cities Metal Association.

Minnesota’s Future spent the bulk of its money during the Primary with independent expenditures on behalf of Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson (R) and former House Speaker Kurt Zellars (R).

Here is Minnesota’s Future registration. http://www.cfboard.state.mn.us/campfin/PCFDetail/PCF40989.html

Here is their pre-Primary report.

http://www.cfbreport.state.mn.us/rptViewer/Main.php?do=viewPDF

Minnesota‘s Future IE PAC

Starting Cash Balance             $   7,366.86

Total Receipts                         $155,000.00

Total Expenditures                  $161,214.67

Ending Cash Balance              $    1,152.19

Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Leadership Fund

Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Leadership Fund Chair is Joel Swedberg, is a registered lobbyist and is the Vice-President for Legislative Affairs for Hormel http://www.cfboard.state.mn.us/lobby/lbdetail/lb1310.html. His only client is Hormel.  Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Leadership Fund Treasurer is Bill Blazar is a registered lobbyist for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce http://www.cfboard.state.mn.us/lobby/lbdetail/lb6805.html.

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce traditionally supports Republican candidates and it is the more familiar traditional source of outside funding for Republicans.

Here is their campaign finance registration.

http://www.cfboard.state.mn.us/campfin/PCFDetail/PCF70001.html

Here is Minnesota’s Future IE PAC pre-Primary campaign finance report.

http://www.cfboard.state.mn.us/campfin/PCFDetail/PCF70001.html

Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Leadership Fund

Starting Cash Balance             $  96,041.81

Total Receipts                         $137,563.14

Total Expenditures                  $  91,974.19

Ending Cash Balance              $149,957.98

Minnesota Action Network IE PAC

The Chair of the Minnesota Action Network IE PAC is former US Senator Norm Coleman (R) and former Rep. Laura Brod (R) was the Executive Director.

The Minnesota Action Network IE Treasurer is Gina Countryman, former State Republican Party Communications Director.

Here is their campaign finance registration.

http://www.cfboard.state.mn.us/campfin/PCFDetail/PCF41098.html

This group appears to have been keeping its powder dry during the Primary and we will learn the extent of their involvement with the October 25th report.

Here is their pre-Primary campaign finance report.

http://www.cfbreport.state.mn.us/rptViewer/Main.php?do=viewPDF

Minnesota Action Network IE PAC

Starting Cash Balance             $           0.00

Total Receipts                         $352,200.00

Total Expenditures                  $  36,417.22

Ending Cash Balance              $315,782.78

 

Minnesota Jobs Coalition

Minnesota Jobs Coalition Chair Ben Golnik, is not a registered lobbyist, and is a former Executive Director of the Republican Party of Minnesota. He has his own political consulting firm called Golnik Strategies. He is a political operative who prides himself with his role in the 2010 Republican Majority takeover of the state senate in addition to the election of Chip Cravaak to Congress. The Minnesota Jobs Coalition Treasurer is Kevin Magnuson.

This group is by far the most political with its focus on winning elections. They have mounted a significant effort against Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) and the DFL House Caucus. The attention they are gaining in the press has helped their fundraising efforts significantly.

We are anxiously awaiting their October 25th campaign finance report.

Here is their campaign finance registration.

http://www.cfboard.state.mn.us/campfin/PCFDetail/PCF41115.htm

Here is their pre-Primary campaign finance report.

http://www.cfbreport.state.mn.us/rptViewer/Main.php?do=viewPDF

Minnesota Jobs Coalition

Starting Cash Balance             $  21,114.05

Total Receipts                         $167,110.00

Total Expenditures                  $170,606.54

Ending Cash Balance              $  17,617.51

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