By Jennifer Brooks and Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

Late Friday afternoon, the Minnesota GOP fired a broadside at Democrat Jim  Graves, who is running against Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, questioning the challenger's business practices, financial disclosures and even whether he really served on the board of the United Way.

"At a time when we already have too many people in Washington who don’t believe the rules apply to them, do we need one more" read the 4 p.m. press release.

The Graves campaign did not respond to the specific claims -- including the burning question of whether Graves has, as he claimed, served on the board of the United Way of Central Minnesota.

"These are desperate times for Rep. Bachmann, who for the first time in her congressional career finds herself in a tight race against a successful businessman, Jim Graves. Her laundry list of wild accusations is completely bogus and hardly worthy of a response," said Adam Graves, Graves' campaign manager and son. The release came from the GOP, not Bachmann.

Late Friday afternoon, no one was available to comment at the United Way about Graves' board tenure. Attempts to reach current board members and United Way staff by email have been unsuccessful.

The GOP announcement came the same day political oddsmakers at the Cook Political Report downgraded the Sixth District from a safe Republican seat to a more competitive contest. Graves, a wealthy hotelier, has been running hard on his pro-business and financial credentials.

In their release, the state GOP ran through a litany of perceived business wrongdoing by Graves -- including setting up his hotels as union shops.

The GOP alleges Graves didn't list several businesses he was involved with on his required federal financial disclosure form and did list several businesses that the party could not confirm existed. Graves has businesses in many cities.

The party also said that Graves worked with several different hotel corporations on his downtown Minneapolis hotel, which, the Republicans allege, means he broke agreements with his early partners. The party provided media reports on the Graves hotel's rebranding.

Heather Rubash, spokeswoman for the party, said the party decided to release their research on Graves on a Friday afternoon to allow the information to "percolate over the weekend."

The Bachmann campaign declined to comment on the release.




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