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Small party funds see windfall from state campaign finance law

Plus: Legislative Auditor to examine Sports Facilities Authority officials’ use of Vikings stadium suites; Dakota Access Pipeline protesters undeterred by evacuation orders, weather; and more.

REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Today in giant loopholes. MPR’s Brian Bakst reports: “Five years ago, Isanti County Republicans got by on roughly $800 — campaign money they used to rent a local fair booth, manage a party mailing list and make a contribution to a rookie state lawmaker from the area. … By 2014, however, the Isanti GOP was flush with cash as lobbyists and others with Capitol connections poured in more than $20,000. This year, its bank balance swelled to nearly $50,000, allowing the little operation to spread the wealth to Republican legislative candidates around the state. … What changed? Isanti’s GOP morphed from afterthought to big-money target at exactly the same time Kurt Daudt went from obscure local representative to Republican House minority leader and then speaker of the Minnesota House.”

A tip of the cap to the Strib for drawing attention to this. Rochelle Olson reports: “The state’s top auditor said he’s opened a ‘priority’ investigation into the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority’s control of two prime luxury suites and the state senator who sponsored the bill authorizing U.S. Bank Stadium said she’s ‘disgusted’ by the lack of transparency the authority has insisted on for the suites at Minnesota Vikings games and other events such as concerts.”

Staying put. MPR’s Matt Sepic reports: “Thousands of people protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline project are promising to remain in their encampment about 50 miles south of Bismarck, N.D. That’s despite snow, strong winds and evacuation orders from state and federal officials. … Opponents of the project have halted construction of the nearly complete 1,170 mile pipeline for the time being as they camp at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri Rivers. … They say a break in the pipeline under the Missouri River could send volatile Bakken crude oil gushing into the river, fouling the water supply for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation just downstream. A study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found spills would likely be too small to be toxic, and that the company, Energy Transfer Partners, plans to monitor water quality.”

In other news…

Just awful: “Turn yourself in, pleads son of woman killed by hit-and-run driver in Minneapolis” [Star Tribune]

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You’re probably going to watch this: “A new Prince documentary featuring Mick Jagger, Bono, and Sheila E is expected to hit theaters in 2017.” [Slate]

A storyline as evergreen as a Christmas tree: “Holiday Display Has Waconia Neighbors At Odds” [WCCO]

Making his case: “Rep. Keith Ellison On Why He Deserves To Be DNC Chairman” [NPR]

How else will kids learn the valuable life skill of ruthlessness? “High school runner disqualified for helping foe” [KARE]

Believe it when you see it: “Yes, those billboards mean Guns N’ Roses is coming to the Twin Cities” [Star Tribune]

Aww: “Minnesota Zoo’s oldest tiger dies at 16” [MPR]