A mailing by police and firefighters groups suggests the groups had access to DFL voters lists they shouldn't have.
Did upset Minneapolis firefighters and police officers get hold of DFL voters lists they shouldn't have?
The Minneapolis police and firefighters political funds sent a letter to past DFL caucus attendees bashing Minneapolis Mayor and gubernatorial candidate R.T. Rybak, according to Rybak's campaign manager.
Although candidates can legally get access to the party voter file listing caucus attendees, independent groups, such as the Minneapolis Police Relief Association Political Fund and the Minneapolis Firefighters Relief Association Political Fund, cannot.
But Rybak campaign manager Tina Smith said the campaign has received reports from former caucusgoers from all over the state about the letter, which addresses long-brewing issues over Minneapolis pensions.
"I can't imagine where they would have gotten this list," Smith said.
Neither can DFL Party chair Brian Melendez.
"I am absolutely certain they do not have our voter file," Melendez said. "If they do have access that's not legal."
The same voter file also was ensnared in a campaign finance flap late last year. House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher's gubernatorial campaign and the DFL were fined by the state campaign finance board this month because her campaign had supporters pay the party for her access, rather than paying the party directly from her campaign coffers.
Melendez, of the DFL Party, said no one in his office would have given the police and firefighters funds access to the DFL's list of voters and past caucus attendees.
Every local party unit has its own list of voters who have attended caucuses but it would take a lot of work to compile those into a statewide list, Melendez said.
In a brief interview, the chairman of the police fund shed little light on the provenance of the mailing list. Larry Ward said the mailing went out to DFL delegates.
"I think we got it through the voter file but right now you have me at a disadvantage because I really don't know how we got the list," he said. Ward said he was on vacation and couldn't provide more detail.
The letter, signed by five widows of firefighters and police officers killed in the line of duty, said that Rybak cut the pensions they depend upon.
"There are plenty of outstanding DFL candidates who would make a great governor," said the letter. "R.T. Rybak is not one of them."
In a statement, Rybak said the pension fund has been overcharging the city. He and the City Council "beat the high-priced lawyers and well-connected lobbyists that represent these funds that were overcharging Minneapolis taxpayers -- so now those lawyers and lobbyists are trying to fight back by misrepresenting the facts and spreading smears," he said.
Rybak is one of 11 DFLers vying for support at the state's Feb. 2 caucuses.