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Don Samuels clarifies Vikings stadium vote motivation: "It was all about jobs"

Samuels says financial contributions he received from unions following his pro-stadium vote were simply a happy surprise.
Samuels says financial contributions he received from unions following his pro-stadium vote were simply a happy surprise.

Yesterday, we drew attention to an eyebrow-raising comment Minneapolis City Council member and mayoral candidate Don Samuels recently made when discussing how unions reacted to his vote in favor of a new Vikings stadium.

THE BACKSTORY: Don Samuels: Unions gave me "an envelope with a couple grand" for Vikings stadium vote

"I didn't know that that could happen -- that all the unions could get together like that, and I got an envelope with ... a couple grand," Samuels said, referring to what happened during a fundraiser hosted by unions workers that took place a couple months ago.

Today, we talked to Samuels to get more context about that remark.

Samuels's vote in favor of the Vikings stadium "was all about jobs for my constituents," he said. "That was the motivation for voting yes."

"The union show of support was totally unknown to me [in advance]," Samuels added. "I had no idea, I didn't sit down with unions to plan this."

Though the "envelope with a couple grand" remark conjures up images of corrupt backroom deal-making, Samuels said the union contributions he received were totally aboveboard. At the meeting, he said he received an envelope full of checks, many of them made out for the maximum contribution of $100, from union political groups. Those checks totaled about $2,000, Samuels said.

In fact, a Hennepin County campaign financial report filing (see it for yourself here) indicates that Samuels received a number of contributions from union groups late last November. He said he couldn't remember if those checks were the ones he was referring to in his "envelope with a couple grand" remark.

"It's unfortunate I worded that one quote where one might get the impression" something fishy was going on, Samuels said.


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