Don Samuels: Unions gave me "an envelope with a couple grand" for Vikings stadium vote
Samuels said he was handsomely compensated for a vote that made labor unions happy.
Buried in a recent Star Tribune piece about the Minneapolis mayoral race is a shocking quote from City Council member and mayoral candidate Don Samuels.
In one passage, Samuels seems to say that a coalition of union workers handed an envelope with a couple thousand dollars inside after he voted in favor of a new Vikings stadium last May. The stadium funding plan, you might recall, was approved by the City Council in a 7-6 vote.
From the Strib piece (emphasis mine):
Just a few months ago, dozens of union workers gathered for a fundraiser hosted by the Trades Council and the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation in honor of the seven council members who voted for the stadium. They praised them for supporting economic development. They made campaign contributions...
Council Member Don Samuels, a stadium backer who attended, recalled feeling surprised at the show of union support because he had not previously enjoyed a close relationship with organized labor.
"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," he said recently.
Later in the piece, Samuels acknowledges that labor unions have historically been lukewarm toward him, but says "they really liked me" for the stadium vote.
In any event, the imagery of a bunch of union workers slipping a City Council member a couple thousand dollars in an envelope in exchange for a pro-labor vote certainly seems shady. But it should be noted that Samuels has a history of making over-the-top and controversial public statements.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.