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 Gov. Mark Dayton

Financing in place for Capitol office project; site work to begin Wednesday

Posted by: Patrick Condon Updated: August 5, 2014 - 3:47 PM

Minnesota's Management and Budget office announced Tuesday that it completed a $85.4 million bond sale to fund construction of a new office building for state senators next to the Capitol. 

The state Department of Administration announced shortly after that preliminary work would start at the site on Wednesday. That could include asphalt, tree and curb removal; installation of barriers, fences and partitions; and heavy equipment delivery. 

Plans call for the building to be ready for senators to move in prior to the 2016 legislative session. Planners of the roughly $90 million project, to which taxpayers are contributing about $77 million, say it will both ease crowding concerns during the ongoing, massive renovation of the Capitol building; and provide needed long-term space for state senators and their employees.

The project has become a frequent target of criticism by Republican politicians, who have called it unneeded, and tried to wield it politically against Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative Democrats. 

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: Dayton leads Republicans in cash; Honour leads all in revenue

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 29, 2014 - 10:49 AM

By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glenn Howatt

Facing an August primary, Republicans are spending money quickly but DFL Gov. Mark Dayton hoarding more cash until the GOP sorts out its contest, according to recent campaign finance reports.

In the required pre-primary reports, Dayton has held on to nearly $850,000 of the cash he has raised despite spending more per day on his campaign operations than his would-be Republican rivals.

Republican Scott Honour, one of four men with organized campaigns for the GOP primary next month, spent nearly as much per day and had more than $540,000 left to spend in the build up to the primary. Honour, a first time candidate whose background, has brought in nearly $1.8 million for his campaign, half of it from personal loans to his campaign.

Dig into all the numbers -- including those from Republican-endorsed Jeff Johnson, Rep. Kurt Zellers and former Rep. Marty Seifert -- below:

In other constitutional officer contests, the numbers show the impact of both incumbency and a contested DFL primary race for auditor. In the auditor's race, DFL primary challenger Matt Entenza poured $255,000 of his own cash into his campaign against DFL Auditor Rebecca Otto.

View all the numbers below: 

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