St. Paul City Council Member and mayoral candidate Dai Thao fired his campaign manager Saturday after allegations arose that she solicited a bribe from a lobbyist, according to a report on Fox 9 News.
Thao told Fox 9 reporter Tom Lyden, "We would never do that." In response to questions Sunday, Thao said "I look forward to cooperating with any investigation that may occur."
According to the news report, Thao met with an unnamed lobbyist and two of the lobbyist's clients at a St. Paul coffee shop in February to talk about an upcoming council vote. Thao repeatedly told the lobbyist "he needed resources so he could spread his message," the report said, which gave the lobbyist the strong impression that Thao was talking about a campaign contribution.
Hours later, Angela Marlow, Thao's campaign manager, texted the lobbyist, saying, "Dai asked me to see if I could get a donation from your clients or yourself for his mayor campaign? My understanding is that [the clients] are leaving tomorrow. We will certainly rethink this issue."
The lobbyist reportedly told Marlow that her text could be interpreted as a bribe request.
Fox 9 talked to Marlow on Saturday as she was leaving a caucus in St. Paul. She said the lobbyist contacted her to set up a meeting.
"I'm playing the same game she is," Marlow said. "She's playing a game with her clients. You took up three hours of his time, you can give a donation.
"That is a rookie mistake one can make," Marlow said. "If you want to hold me to the fire, go ahead but it's not about Dai Thao."
Marlow was fired shortly after talking to the TV reporter. Thao also put out a news release saying, "Today, I learned that two months ago my campaign manager solicited an illegal contribution from lobbyists. I had no knowledge of this, did not sanction it and do not condone these actions."
Thao has represented St. Paul's First Ward on the council since he first was elected in 2013. After becoming the first Hmong-American to serve on the City Council, Thao was reelected in 2015.
Pat Pheifer • 612-673-7252