MNGOP scandal: "Smoking gun" email suggests alleged recount scheme was just the beginning
Said Mike Dean: "I'm greatly concerned that all this redistricting money is coming in to influence elections, from both sides, and there's no disclosure."
An email obtained by the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board suggests the MNGOP's alleged illegal financial shenanigans might not have been limited to the effort to pay legal bills stemming from the the 2010 gubernatorial recount.
The January 2011 email, from then-party chair Tony Sutton to former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice and longtime MNGOP supporter Eric Magnuson, implies Sutton envisioned a similar "circumvention" scheme to help cover costs associated with the then-impending redistricting effort.
Here's the email:
As The Uptake reports, two days after Sutton sent the email, a group called Minnesotans for a Fair Redistricting filed with the Minnesota Secretary of State for registration as a nonprofit corporation.
The New York Times recently reported that a St. Louis-based drug
benefit company named Express Scripts gave $10,000 to Minnesotans for a
Fair Redistricting last year. Brian Henry, spokesman for the company, which has a
facility in Bloomington, said the company donated because the "electoral
maps in Minnesota were in doubt and we supported efforts to bring
certainty to Minnesota voters."
But the Times' report, combined with the Sutton-Magnuson e-mail, suggests the MNGOP may have been illegally raising funds for the redistricting battle. As Common Cause's Mike Dean explained, it's unlawful for the MNGOP or any political party to set up a for-profit or non-profit corporation that accepts undisclosed corporate contributions and then uses the money for party purposes.
"What happened with [the recount], also happened with redistricting," Dean told City Pages. "There's a pattern when the Minnesota Republican Party was trying to get around the ban on corporate contributions to political parties with these shell organizations."
Intentionally trying to obscure the source of money used to fight the redistricting isn't something just Republicans were up to, Dean added.
"Dems were doing this too," Dean said. "It's something I'm looking to reform in the future. If redistricting is going to happen in the courts, we need to figure out who is paying for it."
Dean added that his focus, for now, is on the criminal complaint he just filed in connection with the recount case. He plans to spend more time looking into how the redistricting battle was funded after the election.
"People don't make political contributions out of the goodness of their heart -- they're expecting something in return" Dean said. "This particular email provides an opportunity to shine a brighter light on this."
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.