Alida Messinger

Alida Messinger

(With Jim Spencer and Rachel E. Stassen-Berger)

There’s a new name at the pinnacle of political donors from Minnesota: Minneapolis attorney and entrepreneur Michael Snow.

Snow edges out Rockefeller heiress Alida Messinger at the top of the big Minnesota money names in the 2011-2012 federal election cycle, according to data released Monday by the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington watchdog group.
Also among the top 10 is Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion fame. Keillor, with $146,850 in donations to Democrats and their causes, ranks sixth among Minnesota donors.
Snow’s $1,166,462 edged out Messinger’s $1,114,397, a margin of only $52,065. Both gave exclusively to Democrats, records show. Some $1.1 million of Snow’s money went to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC spawned by President Obama supporters.
During the same period, however, Messinger gave more than $2.5 million to Democratic and liberal causes in Minnesota elections.
After Messinger, Gov. Mark Dayton’s ex-wife, and Snow, of Maslon, Edelman, Borman & Brand, the givers drop decidedly into the six-figure range.
Next on the list is homemaker Grace Evenstad, wife of Upshur-Smith Laboratories head Ken Evenstad. She’s the state’s top GOP donor, having contributed $861,600, according to the Sunlight list. Grace Evenstad gave $500,000 to the Mitt Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, and $250,000 to Karl Rove’s super PAC American Crossroads, according to records.   
Others in the top 10 are familiar in Minnesota political circles: Democratic donor Robert Pohlad from Minnesota Twins fame, and GOP donor Robert Ulrich, the former chief executive officer and chairman of the Target Corporation.
Altogether, 379 Minnesotans are among the 31,385 donors nationwide who represent just .01 percent of the U.S. population but are increasingly becoming the gatekeepers of public office in the United States, according to the Sunlight Foundation.
According to the group’s analysis, 28 percent of all disclosed political contributions came from the “1 percent of the 1 percent.”

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