Minn. groups that back Dems bring in over $1M

Published 12:45 pm Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn.  — Two large Minnesota funds spending to elect Democrats raised more than one of their chief rivals, as business contributions slowed dramatically after Target Corp. endured a national backlash over its donations.

Fundraising reports released Wednesday showed that the 2010 Fund and WIN Minnesota raised more than $1 million in the five weeks following the Aug. 10 primary. The Democratic-backed funds funnel money to a third group, the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, which has been running ads attacking Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Emmer.

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MN Forward, a business-oriented group that backs Emmer, brought in less than $250,000 in that same time, continuing a slide in fundraising since Target’s $150,000 donation in July angered liberals. Gay rights supporters criticized the retailer for supporting Emmer, who opposes gay marriage.

After its establishment in June, MN Forward raised $785,000 in its first five weeks and another $395,000 in the three weeks leading up to the primary. In the latest period, the group got $100,000 each from manufacturing conglomerate 3M Co. and a Wayzata-based group called the State Fund for Economic Growth, plus a smattering of smaller donations.

The report from Minnesota’s Future, another major GOP-backed group, hadn’t arrived at the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board as of Wednesday morning. The reports were due Tuesday but could also be postmarked then. The board posts the reports online.

The reports show how the groups spent their money through Sept. 14. So far this year, the Alliance for a Better Minnesota has sunk nearly $2.8 million into TV ads critical of Emmer. MN Forward has spent $300,000 on ads going after Dayton and nearly $350,000 on ads supporting Emmer.

Minnesota’s Future has also run ads attacking Dayton.

Some big bucks are bypassing the race for governor and flowing toward races to determine who controls the Minnesota Legislature. Nowhere is it more apparent than with political committees connected to Indian tribes in Minnesota.

Tribes that run successful casinos in Red Wing, Shakopee and Mille Lacs have put a combined $900,000 into centralized campaign accounts for party legislative caucuses. Democrats received about 97 percent of that money.

The tribes are fiercely protective of their casino monopoly, which all three major candidates for governor say they would consider challenging via state-run gambling parlors.

On the GOP side, a consortium of conservative entrepreneurs aligned under the Freedom Club banner have spent about $460,000 to aid Republican candidates, fuel the state Republican Party or go after legislative Democrats the group finds vulnerable.