The 2016 elections are almost 400 days away, but some Republicans in the Minnesota House of Representatives are already being targeted in political mailings.
It may be early to see political mailings, but what is most surprising is the organization behind the mailings targeting Republicans legislators is comprised of Republicans.
Liberty Minnesota PAC, who's goal is "empowering liberty-minded voters," has started to send direct mail into the legislative districts. The mailings highlight the grade legislators received on a recent scorecard by Liberty Minnesota and other key votes during the last legislative session.
"Our goal is to have legislators really be held accountable by [Republican] delegates and by the grassroots in their district," said Karl Eggers, who serves as the executive director of Liberty Minnesota.
In total, Eggers said Liberty Minnesota PAC would be targeting 15 to 20 members of the Minnesota House of Representatives. While the first mailings are hitting Republicans, Eggers said some Democratic legislators will also be receiving mailings.
Eggers said Liberty Minnesota PAC is making a "significant investment", which he estimated would be low to mid-five figures, and would include encouraging Republican activists to attend precinct caucuses next year in targeted districts.
"We want people to force these legislators to try to argue why these bills were conservative bills and why the Minnesota House Republicans is a conservative group of legislators, because we think they are not," added Eggers.
Specifically, Eggers mentioned the failure of the Republican Party of Minnesota's "Give it Back" campaign, which encouraged Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature to return all of the projected $1.9 billion budget surplus to taxpayers, as one of the reasons for Liberty Minnesota's new efforts.
"I don't think they care about giving back taxpayer money," said Eggers, who added, "I think they care about giving public money to their cronies and to the special interests that they want to."
Liberty Minnesota Chair Mark Wegscheid agreed with Eggers' assessment that a change in the Republican leadership in the Minnesota House of Representatives may be needed for the goals of his organization to be achieved.
Neil Lynch, chair of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, said he has been contacted by Republican legislators who mistakenly believed the mailings were sent out by his organization.
"While I certainly understand the frustration people have with Republicans in the Minnesota House of Representatives," said Lynch, "I think there are more constructive ways to bring about change than this."
Lynch expressed concern as one of the legislators endorsed by the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, was targeted in a mailing by Liberty Minnesota.
Until the mailings started to appear across the state, Liberty Minnesota PAC was not considered a well-funded political committee. In 2014, public campaign finance records show Liberty Minnesota PAC spent less than $3,000 for the entire election cycle in Minnesota.
In response to questions about how Liberty Minnesota PAC funded and organized the mailings, Eggers said "everything will be reported" in campaign finance reports next year.
Questions have been raised about Liberty Minnesota PAC working with representatives of the Freedom Club on the recent mailings. The Freedom Club is a conservative non-profit organization, which also maintains a state and federal political action committee.
Eggers declined to comment about his discussions with Alex Kharam, the executive director of the Freedom Club, about the mailings nor would he offer any specifics on Kharam's involvement.
Kharam, who works closely with Freedom Club board member Bob Cummins, did not respond to a request for comment.
Picture source: Liberty Minnesota