By Mike Kaszuba

Though Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner has generally declined to disclose his corporate clients as a former public relations executive, he was involved with the early planning of Target Field, the new home of the Minnesota Twins.

As the stadium was being built three years ago, the Minnesota Ballpark Authority gave Himle Horner Inc. – Horner's former public relations firm -- a small, $10,000 contract to help with public relations. The stadium was built largely with public money, and its approval came after years of controversy over using tax dollars to help build it. "Tom Horner was engaged to assist [us] in developing plans for managing internal and external communications during the construction phase," said Dan Kenney, the ballpark authority's executive director. Horner, he said, also facilitated a work session for the ballpark authority, which led to the publication of annual reports and e-newsletters for the organization. "It was a very small contract," explained Horner. "We [also] helped them structure a crisis management plan to make sure that if a crisis occurred during the construction of the ballpark, it would be handled responsibly. I was part of a team." As a candidate for governor, Horner is now pushing his plan to help build a new, publicly-subsidized stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings have employed Himle Horner to help push for the new stadium, but Horner has insisted he did not work on the contract for the company.