Minneapolis mayoral hopeful Tom Hoch's donations to Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek each of the past three years are drawing criticism in a tightly contested mayoral campaign.
Stanek has praised President Donald Trump and sent deputies and equipment to Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota in October 2016, a decision that prompted protests in downtown Minneapolis. Standing Rock was the scene of extended protests over the Dakota Access oil pipeline.
"There was huge support for Standing Rock in our community," said Coya White Hat-Artichoker, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe who lives in south Minneapolis. "To see that Hoch supported Stanek tells me everything I need to know about how he feels about the native community."
Hoch's last donation to Stanek was in March 2016, months before the sheriff sent deputies to Standing Rock or voiced support for Trump.
Hoch opposed the Dakota Access pipeline and "hasn't given Stanek a dime" since he showed support for the Trump administration's immigration policy, said Kieran McCarney, Hoch's campaign manager. Hoch was one of many Democrats who donated to Stanek, McCarney said, and he can disagree with public officials on issues and still work with them.
"If any of our opponents in this race want to criticize Sheriff Stanek or say that any kind of support for him is out of line, I'd be curious how they expect to have a working relationship with the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office when they're mayor," McCarney said.
Hoch has now drawn fire for two instances of donating across party lines. He donated $500 to the Minnesota House Republican caucus in 2016.
"Tom Hoch calls himself a progressive, yet he is a serial investor in Republican values," Mayor Betsy Hodges said in a statement.
Three other mayoral candidates — State Rep. Ray Dehn, Council Member Jacob Frey and Nekima Levy-Pounds — declined to comment.