Congressman Rick Nolan's spokesman denies explosive allegations made in a recent Zenith City Weekly report.
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The piece, written by Shelly Mategko, alleges that during his campaign to unseat Republican Chip Cravaack in 2012, Nolan, with the help of the DFL, circumvented federal campaign laws limiting political parties to spending $5,000 per election on individual candidates.
The report, citing Federal Election Commission filings, alleges staffers working for Nolan were paid by the DFL to the tune of $25,382 before the primary and $44,226 before the general election, thereby giving Nolan an illegal leg up.
But reached for comment in Duluth this morning, Nolan's communications director, Steve Johnson, analyzed the allegations thusly -- "If all you do is read an FEC report and you don't know how to interpret it, you can make all sorts of erroneous conclusions."
Johnson said the fundamental problem with Mategko's report is that she doesn't appear to understand the concept of a "coordinated campaign."
"The DFL can pay staffers to work not just on one campaign but on a number of campaigns," Johnson explained. "It's perfectly legal and it's very common practice."
In other words, according to Johnson, the staffers Mategko alleges were working on Nolan's campaign were actually working on a number of other ones as well, and there's nothing wrong with that.
Ironically, Johnson said stories like Zenith City Weekly's illustrate the need for the sort of campaign finance reform Nolan has long championed.
"My boss has been fighting for campaign finance reform and public financing of elections for 40 years," Johnson said. "Stories like this one do point to the need to get these laws reformed, because they're confusing and kinda messy."
DFL Communication Director Ellen Perrault said the DFL would provide no official comment for this story.