The latest spat involving the Minnesota Republican presidential candidates involves Tim Pawlenty’s connections with outside groups who are working to bring people to the Aug. 13 Ames Straw Poll.
The Iowa Republican notes that Pawlenty would gain by working closely with interest groups that are transporting and purchasing tickets for people who wish to attend the Straw Poll:
If the Pawlenty campaign knows that there is a Strong America Now or Iowa Energy Forum bus leaving from a certain county, they could quietly encourage their supporters to catch a ride and get a ticket from one of those groups. That would allow Pawlenty to focus his resources (buses and tickets) on areas of the state that might not be served by an interest group’s bus.
The article notes reports that four of Pawlenty’s Iowa consultants are also being paid by some of those interest groups:
[A Des Moines Register article says that] two of Pawlenty’s Iowa consultants, are also serving another client that is looking to influence the presidential race, the America Petroleum Institute (API). API’s Iowa effort is called the Iowa Energy Forum, and their ads can be seen on the pages of this website.
TheIowaRepublican.com is told that another Pawlenty consultant, Ed Failor, Jr., is also paid to consult the Iowa Energy Forum.
In addition to the three Pawlenty consultants who are also working with the Iowa Energy Forum, an entity that intends to have a major presence at the upcoming Straw Poll in Ames, a fourth Pawlenty Iowa consultant, Nicole Schlinger, is using her skills to plan and organize the Iowa Straw Poll for Pawlenty while serving in the same capacity for Strong America Now.
The story says it’s raising a fuss in the Bachmann camp:
Kent Sorenson, who is chairing Michele Bachmann’s Iowa caucus campaign doesn’t buy [that there’s no conflict of interest with the consultants]. Sorenson told the Register that Pawlenty is, “attempting to hijack nonprofit organizations for his own political gain.” Sorenson also called the involvement of Pawlenty’s Iowa consultants, “unethical attempts to win the Ames straw poll.”
Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant fired back at Sorenson calling his attacks a “malicious accusation.” But is this much ado about nothing, or is the Pawlenty campaign too cozy with groups that are spending big bucks in Ames in an attempt to influence the caucuses like Sorenson suggests?