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MPR report lays out gory details of GOP money woes

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: T-Paw tweaks Kris Humphries; Sommerfest moves to U during renovation; Dayton backs cleanup for Arden Hills site; Koch offers 5-minute interviews; Bachmann camp disputes statement; and more.
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Our Joe Kimball has already noted and linked to MPR’s impressive story on the financial woes of the state GOP. Tom Scheck and Catharine Richert put the piece together. Among other high-/lowlights, if you haven’t had time to read the whole thing: “In 2006 — the last time every member of the Legislature and every constitutional officer were on the ballot — campaign finance reports show the party received $1.8 million in donations that were $100 or less. In 2010, reports show the party raised only $255 from small donors. Sutton said he thought he could make up for the loss by tapping wealthy donors for cash. But he conceded he should have scaled back spending to keep the books balanced. … Trimble [and Associates, the party’s law firm] billed the party even when there was no apparent legal crisis. Federal election records show the party paid Trimble $66,460 in 2011, a year with no noteworthy legal matters. ‘The size of the legal bills is shocking,’ [Pat] Anderson said. Trimble said that his firm did only the legal work that was requested. He characterized the Republican Party as ‘a great client’ and defended his rates. … State law forbids a candidate from paying himself for work. But it doesn’t prohibit candidates and political parties from hiring elected officials. Mike Dean, executive director of the government watchdog group Common Cause Minnesota, said he believes the Republican Party of Minnesota is circumventing that law. … During Sutton’s tenure, Joe Schomacker, who is now a Republican state representative from Luverne, worked on the party’s field staff while he was running for his seat. He earned roughly $1,800 a month. And one legislator is still under contract. Party records show Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, was paid $70,000 for communications consulting beginning in October of 2009 — four months after Sutton defeated him for party chair. In 2010, Thompson ran for state Senate and won while working for the party. He overwhelmingly defeated Democrat Steve Quist.” It would, of course, be cynical and scurrilous to breathe the phrase “crony capitalism.”

Our Guy T-Paw, a big Bruce Springsteen fan he has said, is also up on his Kardashiana. Says “Mary Jane” at “Pawlenty used Kris’ name at a South Carolina Republican event for presidential candidate Mitt Romney. And it seems that Minnesota’s governor doesn’t feel bad for Kris Humphries, even though many believe that Kris was used by Kim Kardashian for publicity. ‘I don’t want you to feel too sorry for him, I mean his marriage lasted longer than my presidential campaign,’ Pawlenty said about Humphries. It seems like an odd statement for a governor to say considering Kris has always spoken so fondly of Minnesota, his home state, on Kourtney and Kim Take New York. Hopefully, Kris can demand an apology from the governor, as the bashing seemed to be uncalled for. Maybe he was just trying to make a mainstream joke about what is going on in the celebrity industry, but he should be careful considering Kris partially represents Minnesota on one of the biggest reality shows on television at this point.” Yeah! That show has ratings you can only dream of, dude!

Sommerfest, the Minnesota Orchestra’s summer series, is moving over to the Ted Mann Concert Hall at the U of M campus. In the Strib, Graydon Royce says: “This is the first time since Sommerfest originated in 1980 that the event has not been held downtown at Orchestra Hall and Peavey Plaza. A reconstruction project at Orchestra Hall necessitates the shift. The orchestra will play its 2012-13 season, beginning next fall, at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Ted Mann is known for great acoustics and a glass-walled lobby that overlooks the river. With 1,126 seats, it has roughly half the capacity of Orchestra Hall. An outside terrace that is decidedly smaller than Peavey Plaza will be available to ticket holders for pre-concert activities, food and drink.”

A post by Rachel Stassen-Berger at the Strib says: “The state should contribute $30 million to clean up the former ammunitions plant site at Arden Hills this year if the Ramsey County location is not selected as the future home of the Minnesota Vikings, Gov. Mark Dayton said Friday. ‘I told the county commissioners that I would put in and work hard for $30 million of bonding to clean up the site if the project, if the stadium goes elsewhere so we can get that ready to be developed. It is just a fabulous piece of property potentially,’ Dayton said. He said he did not put the money in the borrowing proposal he released last week because he did not want to prejudge where the stadium would be built.”

Key bit of information here … “five minutes.” Also at the Strib, Baird Helgeson reports: “Former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch will be holding media interviews Tuesday, her first interviews since she resigned her leadership post last month after admitting to an inappropriate relationship with a male staffer. Koch, a Buffalo Republican, will only allow five minute interviews per media outlet.” I’m sure everyone will use their precious time asking about the bonding bill.

Today in Bachmannia: (And yes, my heart swells at the opportunity to write that again). Ben Szobody at GreenvilleOnLine in South Carolina writes: “Bachmann’s spokeswoman told this afternoon that a statement widely distributed to voters in South Carolina in which Bachmann is quoted ripping Newt Gingrich did not come from the campaign, even though she said it appeared to be official. Alice Stewart, spokeswoman for the former presidential candidate, told in an interview that someone forwarded the statement to her, and that even though it bore the same email address as her later, official statement, it was not from the campaign.” The allegedly bogus statement said, in part: “I am not yet prepared to offer my endorsement, but look forward to doing so in the coming weeks. However, through this exhaustive process of consideration, it was strikingly obvious that one candidate could not be less acceptable to be our Party’s nominee. He lacks the poise, experience and moral fiber to represent our principles and values. That candidate is Newt Gingrich. In sum, our nation is in desperate need of a proven and moral leader who can point us back in the right direction —not a desperately flawed candidate like Newt Gingrich who has only proven he cannot lead.” Now, on the other hand that nice Mitt Romney …

Edina-based salon corporation Regis, under pressure from off-shore hedge fund investors, has fired a top executive. Says Tom Webb at the PiPress: “Regis Corp. has fired its chief operating officer, David Bortnem, the Edina-based firm said today. The Regis board of directors on Thursday named an interim replacement: Eric Bakken, 44, executive vice president, general counsel and business development. The moves were disclosed in a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Regis is in the midst of a shakeup, after a slate of hedge-fund critics won three seats to Regis’ board of directors this fall. Those critics said the company had strayed too far from its core U.S. salon business, and have urged the company to conduct a series of asset sales and belt-tightening measures.”

Talk about a high(er)-brow con … Paul Srubas of the Green Bay Press Gazette reports on the inmate who appealed to hungry minds: “A prison inmate with eight aliases is scheduled to enter a plea Feb. 10 in Winnebago County Circuit Court to a charge that he ran a fake university with ties to Green Bay. Kenneth Shong, 45, a Racine Correctional Institution inmate, is accused of one count of being party to fraud. After a preliminary hearing Thursday, Winnebago County Court Commissioner John Kuech found probable cause and scheduled the plea hearing. A criminal complaint says Shong is a career con artist who ran Carlingford University, a nonexistent campus set up to be a ‘diploma mill’ with phony branches in Green Bay and elsewhere. Shong is accused of scamming a fellow inmate out of $1,740.50 in tuition money while serving time at the Oshkosh Correctional Institution in 2006.”

A Republican strategist writes an opinion piece in U.S. News saying: “A powerful team of Democrats and labor unions are forcing Gov. Scott Walker to run for office for the second time in under two years. Why? Because when he faced the fourth largest deficit in the country at the beginning of his term, Walker dared to take on the unions that were crippling his state. It appears that the recall election will be held sometime midsummer, and GOP faithful all around the country should pay very close attention. The recall election in Wisconsin is very important for three reasons:

  1. It will determine if Republicans nationwide are willing to take on the unions
  2. It will be a bellwether for the November House, Senate, and presidential contests
  3. It will determine Walker’s political future

“A Walker loss would send a message that unions, no matter how much damage they are doing to the economy and their members, cannot be touched.

Also taking heat, the Strib, from Sarah Janecek, for its “decision” on Steve Sviggum and “conflicts of interest.” She says: “According to our state’s largest newspaper, ‘Sviggum’s employment has put him in a situation fraught with conflict of interest.’ To that I ask, really? Is that a road we really want to travel? How about all those legislators who also work for other units of government? Does that mean they, too, have to abstain from public service if they have another government job? They certainly are voting on many issues — including funding — that affect those other governmental units. That rules out the teachers, the professors, the public defenders, the assistant county attorneys, the government-paid-for economic development people. That weeds out the legislators who work for nonprofits that benefit from appropriations made by the legislature. [There are hundreds (and hundreds) of local nonprofits who receive millions of dollars in pass-through federal and state government funding.] Goodbye to legislators who work for companies that have received major state bailouts over the years.” And yes, she does mention the Strib’s parking lot conflicts with a Vikings stadium.