Keith Ellison's political donors: Why so many outside of state?


The University of Minnesota's Smart Politics analysis today looks at the political contributions to Rep. Keith Ellison's reelection campaign. In the first quarter of this year, Ellison raised more than $26,000 and more than 83 percent of his itemized individual campaign contributions came from outside of Minnesota.

So does that really mean anything?

Smart Politics brings up the most obvious question: Who is Ellison really representing? If more than 83 percent of your donations come from outside of your home state, are you able to accurately represent and support the people who aren't paying your bills?

While it isn't strange for politicians with a high profile to get more donations from outside the state, Ellison topped the list in the first quarter. Behind him was Rep. Jim Oberstar with 73.2 percent and Rep. Collin Peterson with 53.5 percent. Oberstar is the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman and Peterson is the Agriculture Committee chairman. They are both the longest-serving members of the Minnesota delegation.

And even as Rep. Michele Bachmann parades all over national TV and radio, it's not offsetting her donations from inside the state. Only 18.7 percent of her individual donations came from outside the state.

Ellison has no major role in his committee assignments and is only in his second term as congressman. But here's what he's got going for himself: He was the first Muslim in Congress and that's a big deal. He is likely drawing in major donations for the prominence that comes along with that title. But is it worrisome that so few Minnesotans are contributing to his campaign on an off year? Not really. We're guessing any one donating cash to political campaigns right now is wasting their earnings on Al Franken and Norm Coleman.

So was this first quarter just a fluke? Not exactly.

More from Smart Politics:

While Ellison only received about one-third of such contributions from out-of-state residents during his election campaign of 2006 (34.7 percent), that number skyrocketed as soon as he became the first Muslim ever elected to the U.S. House. Out-of-state itemized individual funds increased to 72.0 percent in 2007, 74.7 percent in 2008, and 83.2 percent for the first quarter of 2009.

Overall, Ellison has received at least two-thirds of such funding from outside the Gopher State in 7 of the last 9 quarters.