At least part of Minnesota’s strange political mystery may be solved.
That’s the puzzler of how business executive George Fraley was erroneously listed as the CEO of Count Them All Properly Inc. (CTAP), a Republican fundraising group for the recount of the 2010 governor’s race.
Fraley says the cyber-trail shows that the listing originated within his own company, HealthLink Minnesota Management Group, an Edina firm that provides business services for medical practices. Fraley is executive vice president there.
He says an internal investigation has shown that an administrative assistant at Healthlink, intending to enter Fraley’s name on the Minnesota secretary of state website on behalf of a client, mistakenly entered an ID number that led to the CTAP corporate filing.
“My attorney said, ‘George, maybe you need to tell me what’s going on because the [computer] IP address used to change this was yours,’ ” Fraley said.
Fraley was concerned and perplexed by the news. “I was aware of some dispute involving Republican funding,” he said. “I was not aware of Count Them All Properly.”
The state Campaign Finance and Disclosure Board is now investigating the structure of CTAP and its relation to the Minnesota Republican Party. Fraley learned his name was linked to the group when an attorney sent him a bill for recount services.
Then, “I went to my IT people, and my IT director started investigating,” he said. The investigation appears to clear up how, just after the first of the year, Fraley’s name came to appear on the secretary of state’s CTAP filing.
Fraley explained that the entry was made from the computer of a now-former administrative assistant.
“Part of her job was credentialing [for HealthLink clients]. She needed to be on the secretary of state website from time to time,” Fraley said.
He believes it was an error in data entry. “She entered an ID number that led her to Count Them All Properly. She made a very bad administrative error. There was no money trail, no weird emails. I am absolutely convinced this was not a malicious act.”
Fraley said his attorney worked with the secretary of state’s legal adviser, Bert Black, to determine not only who originated the entry but exactly when: Jan. 5 at 11:11 a.m. His first concern, he said, was to determine whether any clients’ security had been breached. Satisfied there was no problem there, Farley’s IT team turned to the computer from which the change was made.
Fraley defends the administrative assistant identified with the computer, although she no longer works for HealthLink. “I don’t want harm to come to her as the result of this,” he said. “While she made a terrible mistake, there’s got be some forgiveness in this world.”
The data entry mistake would be plausible to Bert Black, except there’s more to the mystery: Months before Fraley’s name was entered, CTAP listed another CEO who was unaware of the listing. Like Fraley, Jon Schroeder, a Maple Grove businessman, claims no connection to CTAP or the Republican Party.
“Overall, it’s rare to have this kind of situation. I don’t remember that we’ve had anything like this,” Black said. “It’s highly unusual.”
Republican activist Mary Igo is now correctly named as CTAP’s CEO. She recently gave a deposition as part of the Campaign Finance Board’s investigation. Her attorney says he’s confident she’s cleared her name in connection with the mystery CEOs. The board would neither confirm nor deny that it’s looking into Fraley’s discovery.
Fraley says he wouldn’t be surprised if he’s asked some questions from the Campaign Finance Board and says he would gladly answer.
“This is their [CTAP’s] mess, not my mess. I just got dragged into their mess,” he said. “I don’t want us to be the focus because somebody uses a diversion tactic.”