Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More Money to Ratchet Up the Election Rhetoric

New Sources of Corporate Money This Year

From MPR:

A group funded by Minnesota corporations has begun running a TV ad praising Republican gubernatorial hopeful Tom Emmer. The ad is the latest effort by an independent group that hopes to influence elections.

The ad focuses on Emmer's commitment to Minnesota businesses.

"As a legislator, Emmer voted against job-killing taxes and for reduced government spending. Now he's running for governor, working to grow jobs, getting government out of the way," the ad stated in part.

Minnesota Forward is an umbrella organization that's funded by Minnesota businesses including Target, Polaris, Hubbard Broadcasting and Davisco Foods. Because of a U.S Supreme Court ruling earlier this year, those businesses and other companies are now allowed to spend corporate money to influence elections.

That court ruling, along with an open governor's race, means political spending will dramatically increase from the last governor's race.

"We're going to see probably double the amount of what we saw in 2006," said Gary Goldsmith, executive director of the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board.

Some lawmakers aren't happy that companies are taking sides in the governor's race. State Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, says it's unwise for Target Corp. to back Emmer, because his views on abortion, gay marriage and the minimum wage could upset Target shoppers.

"Why they would want to get involved and say 'we're for one person' or 'we're for one party' is really beyond me," said Winkler. "There are a lot of people who take politics very seriously and they take their views on issues very seriously, and they do not want to see their money going directly to fund somebody who is directly antagonistic to their belief system."

Target spokeswoman Lena Michaud says Target does not give funds based on party, but on which candidates and causes "directly effect the company's retail agenda."

She said the company gave $150,000 in cash and in-kind contributions to Minnesota Forward because the group's mission is to elect candidates from both parties who are focused on making "economic growth a priority."

McClung, who until recently was chief spokesman for Gov. Tim Pawlenty, says his organization is backing Emmer because he's the only candidate who supports spending cuts and tax cuts. McClung says the new rules won't change state politics much.

McClung points out that labor unions, DFL donors and the Democratic Governors Association are also funding independent groups this election cycle. Those groups, Win Minnesota and the 2010 Fund, are paying for ads criticizing Emmer's record in the Legislature.


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