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Cam Winton concerned Hennepin County spent taxpayer dollars endorsing Andrew for mayor

Winton wants the state to look into whether Hennepin County is tacitly endorsing Andrew in a new taxpayer-funded video.
Winton wants the state to look into whether Hennepin County is tacitly endorsing Andrew in a new taxpayer-funded video.

On Wednesday, Hennepin County's official YouTube account posted a video commemorating the 20th anniversary of the county's Community Works program, which was instrumental in creating the Midtown Greenway.

SEE ALSO: Mpls committee approves streetcar plan called "boondoggle of highest order" by Cam Winton

One of the officials who spearheaded the effort to create the program was former County Commissioner Mark Andrew. Andrew, now running for Minneapolis mayor, gets a lot of positive face time in the video, which was released just weeks before the election. That, combined with the fact that current Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin has endorsed Andrew, has mayoral candidate Cam Winton crying foul.

Winton's concern is that Hennepin County may have spent taxpayer dollars on a video tacitly endorsing Andrew for mayor, and according to a Southwest Journal report, he's asking State Auditor Rebecca Otta to investigate.

"Intentional or no, the County's action strongly appears to be a use of taxpayer funds for a partisan purpose, i.e., supporting Mr. Andrew's candidacy by promoting his signature intiative at an essential time in the campaign," a letter Winton sent to Otto says.

"Commissioner Peter McLaughlin also appears extensively in the video," the letter continues. "Given that he is supporting Mr. Andrew in the mayor's race, I trust you'll look into this matter to ensure that no County official chose to turbo-charge their support for Mr. Andrew with taxpayer funds."

County Commissioner Gail Dorfman shares Winton's concerns. She told the Journal that the timing of the video "raises questions." (Dorfman backs Betsy Hodges.)

McLaughlin, however, denies there's anything untoward about the clip.

"Mark was treated the same as [Commissioner Mike] Opat and me -- original footage and reflections on the many successes," he told the Journal, adding that leaving Andrew "out of the story is like leaving Noah out of the story of the Ark."

If you're curious to watch it for yourself, here's the controversial video:

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.


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