With an insider’s eye, Hot Dish tracks the tastiest bits of Minnesota’s political scene and keep you up-to-date on those elected to serve you.

Contributors in Minnesota: Patrick Condon, Baird Helgeson, Patricia Lopez, Jim Ragsdale, Abby Simons, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Allison Sherry, Corey Mitchell and Jim Spencer.

Posts about Minnesota campaigns

More than $715K poured into political groups recently

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 31, 2014 - 3:58 PM

In the last few weeks, more than $715,000 in political cash has changed hands in Minnesota politics.

According to reports filed in recent days, the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, Education Minnesota, Freedom Minnesota PAC and DFL auditor candidate Matt Entenza have gotten big cash infusions.

The Alliance, largely funded by unions and wealthy Minnesotans, received $275,000 on Monday from WIN Minnesota. The Alliance is the communications arm for Democratic causes, running ads and dealing with the media. WIN Minnesota is largely the funding arm.

The Education Minnesota teacher's union, one of the most politically active labor groups in the state, transferred $125,000 to its political PAC last week. The union derives money from member dues and the PAC spends money on politics.

The Laborers District Council of Minnesota and North Dakota also received a cash infusion from its parent union. According to a filing, the union's political arm received $64,000 from the union.

On Tuesday, the Freedom Minnesota PAC received a $25,000 donation from Daniel Loeb, a New York-based hedge fund manager.

Freedom Minnesota PAC was started to help state Rep. Jenifer Loon in her August primary fight. Loon is being challenged by a fellow Republican in large part because she voted to legalize same-sex marriage last year.

Loeb and his firm have been active supporters of same-sex marriage and gay rights.

Meanwhile, DFLer Entenza gave his campaign for auditor $227,000. Entenza is a state House member who ran for governor in 2010. He donated more than $5 million of his own money to that campaign.

This year, he is waging a primary campaign against DFL auditor Rebecca Otto.

State law requires candidates and campaigns to file reports within 24 hours of receiving big contributions since it is so close to the primary election day.

The cash on the recent filings is in addition to the fundraising the campaigns reported earlier this week.

Updated

Alliance for a Better MN director moving to Education Minnesota union

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 31, 2014 - 1:11 PM

The head of the one of the most powerful Democratic groups in Minnesota will move to one of the most powerful unions in the state.

Carrie Lucking, who has been executive director of the Alliance for a Better Minnesota since 2011, will become Education Minnesota's director of policy, research and outreach.

"I absolutely loved it here and it was a really difficult decision to go," Lucking, a former teacher, said.

But both the Alliance and Education Minnesota have been heavily involved in politics -- and each other. Education Minnesota spent nearly $5 million on political causes since 2008.

The Alliance, which has spent more than $10 million since 2007, has supported Democrats in their election quests. The Alliances' funders received much of their money from Education Minnesota and other unions, the Democratic Governor's Association and Alida Messinger, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton's ex-wife.

Since 2010 Education Minnesota has given at least $660,000 to Alliance's funders and Messinger has donated more than $2 million.

But Lucking said her new job, which will start in September, will not be directly involved in politics and political spending.

"I’ve been living and dying by the election cycling for ten years," she said. "It turns out that’s a long time."

Lucking said the Alliance will be bringing on an extra set of hands to help out during the election and naming a new interim director soon.

Lucking is married to Bob Hume, Gov. Mark Dayton's communications chief.

She said getting distance between their two jobs -- hers at the Alliance in independent political spending -- and his working for a governor the Alliance supports was not one of her considerations in taking the new job.

At home, the couple, who had their first child this year, largely talks about the things all new parents discuss, she said -- food, the baby's inputs and outputs and other domestic affairs.

Updated with contributions from Glenn Howatt

GOP's Johnson, Independence Party's Nicollet release personal tax information

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 31, 2014 - 12:46 PM

Following a pattern Gov. Mark Dayton set when he was first running, candidates who wish to unseat the DFLer are releasing their tax returns to the public.

After Dayton released his more recent tax information last week, both Republican Jeff Johnson and Independence Party's Hannah Nicollet released theirs voluntarily.

Minnesota requires candidates for office to disclose very little about their personal finances. The now-traditional tax return release allows Minnesotans to delve a little more deeply into their income and tax information.

According to Johnson and Nicollet's release, both earned less than Dayton, paid less in taxes but gave a greater percentage of their incomes to charity.

Last week, Dayton revealed that he brought in $352,601, a little less than half of which came from capital gains, in 2013 and paid about $106,000 in state and local taxes. He gave $10,000 to charity.

Republican-endorsed candidate Johnson and his wife earned $221,458 last year; paid about $40,000 in state and local taxes and gave away $16,390 to charity. 

Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Hannah Nicollet and her husband brought in about $68,000 in both 2013 and 2012. They gave charities about $9,500 last year and $15,500 the year before.

Other candidates' tax information is not expected to be immediately forthcoming.

Republican Scott Honour's campaign said he would release his tax information eventually. Republican Kurt Zellers' campaign said he would release his but not until after the August 12 primary, because that contest will take the campaign and candidate's energy.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Marty Seifert last year and this one said he would not release his taxes because he said that information is no one's business.

Here's Johnson's release:

Johnson Taxes 2013 by Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

And here's Nicollet's:

2012 & 2013 Nicollet Tax Returns by Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

This post has corrected the spelling of Nicollet's last name.

The cash contest: Major outside political groups have already raised $11 million

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 29, 2014 - 6:25 PM

By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glenn Howatt

Outside groups -- unions, Democratic and Republican supporters and PACs set up just to support a single candidate -- have raised at least $15 million since the 2012 election.

Those outside groups, which had been slowly raising cash in preparation for the 2014 elections, began piling on money in earnest this summer. Since June 1, the largest independent spending groups raised more than $2.6 million, according to reports released Tuesday.

 As with previous election cycles, union organizations are gearing up with big cash. Education Minnesota, the state’s teachers union, led in fundraising among outside groups with $1.8 million already raised. All told, union affiliated PACs have raised more than $4.6 million to train on the 2014 election.

Much of that cash will benefit Democratic candidates and the Democratic Alliance for a Better Minnesota, which, with its supporters, has already brought in more than $1.8 million.

Republicans-leaning outside groups have already raised $2.6 million. The largest among them, the Freedom Club, launched a major television ad campaign against Dayton in July.

See a breakdown of the fundraising by some of the major outside groups below:

The cash contest: In party fundraising, DFL continues to dominate; GOP catching up

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 29, 2014 - 1:06 PM

Minnesota Democratic party groups continue to dominate the cash contests, raising more, spending more and having more cash-on-hand than Republican party groups, according to pre-primary fundraising reports released Tuesday.

But the Minnesota Republican party groups are catching up. After years of whittling down debt, the state party now has $435,000 in debt remaining in its state committee, which is nearly $100,000 less than it owned at the end of May.

By comparison, however, Democrats still have a clear edge in the money race.

The DFL state party has raised more than $2 million, with help from the DFL House and Senate caucuses. The Republican state party has raised about half that. The state DFL party has also spent about $600,000 more than the Republicans and has a little less than twice the GOP's cash on hand, with no major debt.

The Democratic edge in the House party committees is even more stark.

For the Republican and Democratic battle for control of the House in this election, the DFL House committee has amassed almost three times what the Republican House campaign committee has in fundraising. The DFL campaign arm has about twice as much cash on hand as the Republicans' and has spent about twice more than the Republican rival committee.

Dig into all the numbers below:

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