By Mike Kaszuba

On the same day that Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner spoke at the University of Minnesota recently, a controversy involving his former business partner simmered on campus.

John Himle, Horner’s longtime partner at Himle Horner Inc., a public relations company, was being asked about his wife’s decision to temporarily halt the campus showing of the documentary film, “Troubled Waters:  A Mississippi River Story.” The film, among other things, details pollution problems from farm chemicals and other sources.
Himle’s wife, Karen, is the vice president of university relations. Himle Horner has “from time to time” done public relations work for the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council, said Krystal Caron, a spokesperson for the council.
Though the school has since approved showing the film, the controversy made headlines. “In no way, did I advise my wife,” said Himle, who said the episode was fueled by “innuendo” in large part. “We have maintained a high level of ethics.”
So how much – if any – did the controversy impact Horner’s campaign for governor, especially since Horner has declined to reveal his clients when he worked for the company?
 “Of course, I paid attention to it because. . .it has garnered a good deal of news coverage,” said Horner, who said he did not do work for the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council  while at Himle Horner. “I haven’t talked to John or Karen about it.
“I’ve had no relationship directly with [the] agri-growth council,” added Horner, who left Himle Horner in June.
Is he worried the controversy might in some way spill over to his campaign, as opponents examine Himle Horner’s business ties? “If the media recognized that this is an issue involving the university and not the Horner campaign, then I think Minnesotans will come to the right judgment, and I don’t worry about that,” he said.
“Now, do I think in a political environment that the Democrats and Republicans are going to distort my record?” Horner added, “. . .yes, I mean, unfortunately that’s the way the Democrats and Republicans play politics these days.”