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Around three dozen supporters for Minnesota for Marriage, the group pushing the marriage amendment, protested outside the General Mills headquarters in Golden Valley on 6/26/12.

Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

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Hotdish Politics: In marriage fight, here's how money is being spent

  • October 13, 2012 - 6:50 PM

The Minnesota marriage amendment is shaping up to be the most expensive ballot campaign in state history.

While political operatives spend a lot of time poring over campaign finance reports to see who is giving to each side, it can also be informative to see how both sides are spending the money.

Minnesota for Marriage, the major group pushing the measure, is trailing in fundraising and is far leaner than the group opposing the amendment, according to campaign finance records. But the group's top staffers get dramatically higher wages.

Frank Schubert, the California-based consultant running Minnesota for Marriage, has been paid nearly $360,000 this year, including travel and advertising expenses. He's also running similar marriage-related campaigns in three other states simultaneously.

Andy Parrish, Minnesota for Marriage's deputy campaign manager, gets $10,000 a month. Chuck Darrell, the campaign spokesman, makes $6,776 a month.

Minnesotans United for All Families, the lead organization opposing the amendment, could top $10 million in fundraising by the Nov. 6 election. Unlike the other side, the campaign withholds taxes and benefits from salaried staffers, so indicated salaries are lower.

Richard Carlbom, the campaign manager, earns $6,394 a month. So far this year, the campaign has paid him $57,874 in salary, mileage and expenses.

Deputy campaign manager Ryan Greenwood earns $5,188 a month, and Kate Brickman, campaign spokeswoman, earns $2,854 a month.

The two campaigns are slugging it out over a proposed amendment that would cement a ban on same-sex marriage into the state Constitution.

Minnesota does not recognize same-sex marriage, but supporters argue that the amendment is necessary in the face of recent court cases and legislative proposals to redefine marriage.

Opponents argue that the measure will make it harder for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples to one day marry.

The campaigns have spent handsomely on consultants and focus groups to refine their messages and campaigns.

Minnesota for Marriage has paid $65,253 to the Sterling Corp., a Republican consulting company in Lansing, Mich. The campaign spent $64,802 to hire California-based Lawrence Research to conduct focus groups and tracking surveys. It paid $64,000 to Civis Communications, a Plymouth-based political consulting company founded by GOP mega-donor Robert Cummins.

Minnesotans United has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants. It spent $70,000 to hire Maryland-based Anne Lewis Strategies, which has done fundraising work for environmental groups and Hillary Rodham Clinton, then a Democratic U.S. senator and now the secretary of state. The campaign spent more than $221,000 to hire Grove Insight, a Portland, Ore., polling and research company.

By the middle of September, Minnesota for Marriage had spent about $1.2 million. The other side burned through $3.38 million.

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