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Continued: Big contributors have much at stake in Minneapolis mayoral race

  • Article by: MAYA RAO and ERIC ROPER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: November 1, 2013 - 6:36 AM

The Minneapolis firefighters’ union was among the top donors in the entire campaign, giving $18,000 to the Coalition for a Better Minneapolis.

One of the most controversial issues at City Hall has been a cutback in firefighter staffing, and the union is advocating for additional firefighters to be hired so it can do its job more safely.

Andrew “hasn’t made any promises, [but] he would work with us,” said union secretary Joe Mattison. “He would listen to us.”

One reason that Andrew has more establishment donations is that he has one of the longest résumés in public life of any of the candidates, having spent 16 years on the Hennepin County Board and going on to work as a public relations consultant and businessman who at one time had Xcel and Target Center as clients.

“In public life, you have to be able to take a contribution from someone and then be able to disagree with them,” Greene said. “And Mark’s record shows this.”

Council Member Cam Gordon, who is not running in a competitive race this year, said that it’s difficult for people who accept money from those doing business with the city not to appear like they have been influenced by it.

As a member of the Green Party, he has put limits on contributions he takes from businesses with matters pending at City Hall.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of pressure to accept money [in the mayor’s race], especially if you think there are other people running that are accepting money … and there’s no rules against it,” he said.

Developers with city business have also opened their checkbooks.

Close to $20,000 in campaign cash flooded in from developers proposing a $48.5 million apartment complex in Cedar-Riverside, negotiating with the city on a project for several hundred artist housing units in the old Pillsbury A-Mill building, building the Vikings stadium, and proposing a five-story building outside the North Loop requiring city approvals.

Those donors are also working with City Hall on a development for Penn and Broadway avenues and a project featuring office, commercial and restaurant spaces in Uptown, as well as seeking approvals for a redevelopment of commercial office space in northeast Minneapolis.

Developer Kelly Doran gave a total of $1,500 to Hodges, Samuels and Andrew. He is pitching a controversial residential-retail project in Dinkytown and said he is not seeking any favors. “It’s actually kind of offensive to think you give somebody a few hundred dollars and somehow they’re going to vote for you,” he said.

The independent group supporting Hodges, the Committee for a Greater Minneapolis, received about $24,000 from the Service Employees International Union. SEIU represents Downtown Improvement District ambassadors — in addition to janitors, security officers and others — but not city employees.

Her committee also received $13,000 in donations from Shayna Berkowitz and Phyllis Wiener. Berkowitz is the owner of ReGo, which converts hybrid cars to plug-ins.

The independent group supporting Jackie Cherryhomes, Minneapolis Forward, stood alone in accepting big-dollar corporate contributions.

The largest donation was $20,000 from AGT Enterprises, a Florida-based company managed by TracFone Wireless CEO F.J. Pollak. TracFone is most known for offering government-subsidized cellphone service to low-income people.

Cherryhomes said Pollak is a longtime personal friend of her husband, attorney F. Clayton Tyler.

The group also received $10,000 from a Minneapolis business called Anchor Real Estate Services, which state records show is managed by developer Daniel Dean Oberpriller. Oberpriller’s firm, CPM, owns, builds and manages many residential properties in the University of Minnesota area.

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  • Minneapolis real estate developer Kelly Doran in 2011.

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