MN01 Special Election Fundraising Review : Carnahan gets Zero PAC donations; Munson gets non-corporate PAC donations; Finstad gets GOP PAC monies

The first FEC reports from candidates for Minnesota’s Special Election to replace Jim Hagedorn are out …. and it provides just a hint of what to expect prior to the May 24th primaries — lotsa money …. well at least on the MNGOP side.

The FEC reports cover the monies raised and spent up to March 31 … so it is a little misleading as the candidates may have purchased services but not paid the bills yet. For example, Mrs. Hagadorn (aka Jennifer Carnahan) has sent out two mailings — a glossy eight page booklet ( 8 x 11) and a smaller two-sided color placard ( 5 x 11). These were not cheap.

The costs of these, even when using USPS’s various programs, can be spendy …. depending upon how many households received the “literature”. The Jennifer Carnahan For Congress only reported $21,939.32 payment to Point1 (a Florida-based company that specializes in fundraising, graphics and consulting services) so expect her next report to show a lot of professional services spending.

In terms of monies raised, Jennifer Carnahan For Congress reported $151,395.76 in total donations … a tidy sum but interestingly does not include any monies from Political Action Committees. Sorta makes ya wonder why E-PAC, House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik’s leadership PAC created to support “top Republican female candidates in primaries across the country”, has not endorsed Mrs. Hagedorn …. or even made a donation.

The contributions to the Jennifer Carnahan For Congress were from many old “Friends of Hagedorn” like Stanley and Karen Hubbard of KSTP, John Roise of Lindsey Door, Brandon McNeilus of of Ready Mix Concrete, contributed $2,900 each while Bob Nuss of Nuss Truck & Equipment gave $1,000 … but no national officials. Considering that the mailers referenced her role in the Women For Trump movement, and her appointment to President Trump’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, that is surprising. Where is the Trump money and endorsement ?

Jeremy Munson took a different approach in his mailing … a seven page letter with a one-page bio and one-page endorsement from Ohio’s Fourth District Congressman, JIm Jordan. Munson strongly stated his stance on a number of issues concluding that he is worried about his family and that his “children have been betrayed by the elite in our country.” Munson states that he will “not accept corporate PAC money, because corporate PAC money corrupts the legislative process.” And true to his word, Munson did not report any “corporate PAC” donations … were any were offered is unknown. But that does not mean that Munson did not accept PAC monies (which may have come from corporations). The House Freedom Fund sent the Munson For Congress committee $9,900 while Kentucky’s Fourth District Congressman Thomas Massie used his leadership PAC, Making A Sensible Shift In Elections, to contribute $2,000 and the MN Republican Liberty Caucus provided $1,000.

corporate PAC money” is an interesting phrase …. does that mean Munson will not take money from State Farm Automobile Insurance PAC (i.e. last cycle Tom Emmer received $7,500), but what about a State Farm agent in his home town (yep, Munson did) or what about the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors PAC (i.e. last cycle Tom Emmer received $10,000) …. seems like Jeremy Munson needs to chat with Congressman Emmer about the evils of “corporate PAC money“. Lastly, Munson made headlines by reporting a $200,000 loan to the campaign … indicating that he has over $297,000 available for spending — but since it is a “loan”, that can easily be reduced and refunded as other donations come in.

The real mover in the MNGOP reporting is Brad Finstad who is reporting over $156,000 in contributions …. including donations from current, and past, Members of Congress leadership PAC. Minnesota’s Seventh District Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach’s MNM PAC, Minnesota’s Eighth District Congressman Pete Stauber’s Let’s All Keep Electing Republicans PAC, Iowa’s Fourth District Congressman Randy Feenstra’s Delivers PAC each contributed $2,500 while Minnesota’s retired Second District Congressman John Kline’s Freedom and Security PAC and Texas’ Eleventh District Congressman August Fluger’s Raptor PAC donated $1,000. Other recognizable donors to the Finstad For Congress committee include Bob Ulrich (of Target) and Robert Kienlin (of Fastenal) each donated $2,900. $81,896 of Finstad’s contributions came through WinRed, the national online fundraising tool endoresd by the National Republican Party.

Other MNGOP primary candidates also reported … the Benda For Congress committee got some money from Jim Hagedorn loyalists – the Davis family (of Davisco Foods, Cambria). Matthew Benda also loaned his campaign $15,000. Nels Pierson reported a $100,000 loan. Kocina For Congress reported a $5,000 donation from the St. Paul Pipefitters/Steamfitters Local 455 PAC … Kevin Kocina is a union plumber.

The DFL candidates also issued financial reports …. with the Ettinger For Congress committee leading the pack with a $148,383.50 in total contributions including over $100,483 donated through the Democrats Act Blue online fundraising operation. Rick DeVoe loaned his campaign $15,000 while the Richard Painter For Congress reported contributions of $22,225.84 with only one donation from a policital action committee — $1,000 from Democracy Summer Leadership Program.

The PAC money will flow in prior to the primary will be dwarfed by what comes in after the primary … unless one or more of the top candidates drop out and issue an endorsement to create a defacto leader, expect the “dark money” to stay on the sidelines …. then the monies will gush in.

Kinda funny that voters will hear a lot about consumers being confronted with rising prices … yet the politicians do not seem to have any problems getting money.

While we in Minnesota’s First District get to vote, our impressions of the candidates will be based on how the “dark money” praises or disparages the candidates. So remember when you hear something good or bad about a candidate, it is “Dark money” talking … and most of that money is not coming from inside the First District.