DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin asked Senate and executive branch administrators on Thursday to look into allegations that members of the Senate Republican caucus were using taxpayer time and money for their political campaigns.
Brandishing a news report from FOX 9 and standing next to a blown-up picture of a Republican staffer wearing a campaign shirt in the State Office Building, Martin said GOP candidates appeared to be using a publicly funded room as the “Senate Republicans’ new campaign office.”
The FOX 9 report said a Republican caucus staff member invited other staffers to the room for lunch before heading out on lunch-hour literature drops. The picture appears to show one of those staffers wearing a campaign shirt standing near the room.
The DFL lodged complaints with Secretary of the Senate Cal Ludeman and Department of Administration Commissioner Spencer Cronk.
“We ask both of those gentlemen to immediately pursue an investigation into state employees using taxpayer resources for campaign purposes,” Martin said. “If this is not corruption, then it must be incompetence at the least.”
But Majority Leader Dave Senjem said on Thursday that the GOP Senate caucus strictly enforces laws about campaigning using public funds. He also said he wasn’t aware of any impropriety occurring and hadn’t seen the report.
“Goodness’ sakes, no. We emphasize that stuff,” Senjem said. “I’m not at all concerned about it.”
Martin also called attention to a DFL complaint filed in February with the Office of Administrative Hearings about Senate Republicans using office resources to print pamphlets that included links to political donation pages.
“This is a pattern in this caucus that needs to be acknowledged,” he said. “This is about the public trust.”