(This post has been updated.)
A Republican-allied national political consulting firm is demanding the Minnesota Republican Party pay back more than $200,000 in overdue bills related to last year's election.
"We did work on behalf of the party," Peter Valcarce, founder and chairman of Salt Lake City-based Arena Communications, wrote in an email to state GOP Chairman Keith Downey. "That work was performed based upon the good faith belief that monies which had been deposited and budgeted for party mail in support of Mike McFadden and Stewart Mills would be promptly paid to us."
Valcarce, who sent the email last Monday, confirmed its legitimacy in a phone call. Valcarce said Monday that Downey responded by promising to deliver a repayment plan by the end of the day this Monday.
In an interview, Downey said the state GOP has paid up "about 80 percent of the vendor invoices" related to the 2014 campaign. "We're confident everyone is going to be paid everything they're owed," he said.
In all, Downey said, the party has covered 90 percent of campaign 2014 costs. Of those vendors waiting to be paid, he said, about 20 percent of the total payment has yet to be made.
A major focus of Downey's chairmanship of the state party has been to restore financial stability to a party that teetered near bankruptcy in recent years. He is running for a second two-year term as state party chairman at a party gathering on April 11.
"We're on a sound financial footing," Downey said.
Valcarce's email to Downey carries an angry tone at times. "Claims that 'financial obligations have been met' and the like speak volumes." He later wrote: "We will continue to explore all options regarding recovering the monies owed to us."
In the phone interview, Valcarce called the situation unusual.
"It's the first time I've taken a step like this with a state party in the almost 20 years I've been in business," he said.
Downey downplayed the significance of the overdue bills, and the harsh tone by fellow Republican political operatives. "Vendor communications are typically in private rather than public," he said.