In 2014, the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) contributed $325,000 to the Minnesota Jobs Coalition Legislative Fund, making the national GOP group the political action committee's largest single donor.
Not only did the MJC's flood of attack mail and radio ads help flip the House to Republican control, but its leader, Ben Golnik was hired as the Republican House Majority's executive director.
In 2016, they'll be back, Patrick Condon reports in a Strib Hot Dish Politics post, National GOP group targets control of Minnesota Senate:
A national Republican fundraising group dedicated to GOP control of state legislatures has targeted the Minnesota Senate as a pickup opportunity in 2016.
The Senate Republican Caucus announced Thursday that it had landed on the priority list for the Republican State Leadership Committee. The group said its efforts in Minnesota would also be aimed at retaining the current Republican majority in the House.
"They know we can win back control of the Senate," Senate Minority Leader David Hann said.
Will Hann's caucus get that money directly? Unlikely: last year, the RSLC did not contribute directly to the the GOP House committee, the HRCC (view year-end report here) or to the Republican Party of Minnesota (report here). Nor did the other conservative ideological large independent expenditure group, the MN Action Network IE (report here), receive any of the RSLC's largesse.
Bluestem imagines that should the group continue its funding relationship with the MN Jobs Coalition, the dollars heading to Minnesota will be used to recycle attacks on the Senate Office Building and other perceived wasteful spending.
New attacks are likely to include the $100,000 fine imposed by the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board on the Senate Majority Caucus Campaign for coordination; many of the senators whose committees were involved in the mischief are in swing districts, and perceived self-dealing by Senate DFLers (Dave Tomassoni's attempt to work for a Range group that heavily lobbies the legislature might be the post child for this, as well as spending by the IRRRB).
Where does the RSLC get its money? Unlike the MN Jobs Coalition itself and many other groups, the RSLC reports its donors on a monthly basis to the IRS. Open Secrets is a good place to start looking at the group's getting and spending.
Bluestem looked at the Open Secrets database and the IRS filings to put together a November 14, 2014 post, MN Jobs Coalition received [$325,000] from the RSLC; where'd that money trickle down from? and a Feb 2015 update: MJC received $325,000 from the RSLC; where'd that money trickle down from?, as well as some additional analysis in our Merchants of Daudt series.
By giving money to RSLC, which then funnels cash to groups such as the MN Jobs Coalition Legislative Fund, corporations can gain influence in Minnesota elections on the sly. Corporations cannot give directly to state level candidates under Minnesota campaign finance law.
As we noted in Of the loners at the Center for Responsive Politics & McNamara's campaign finance fables, the Center, which maintains the Open Secrets database, groups large indiviudual contributions by business executives among corporate contributions; such contributions are allowed under Minnesota law.
Worried about the influence of big money on Minnesota politics? The RSLC announcement demonstrates that it's not going to get any smaller: the group plans to spend $40 million nationwide, with the Minnesota Senate among its top six targets.
More money from the RSLC
According to a statement released by the group, RSLC Announces State Legislative Election Targets for 2015-2016, Minnesota's state senate is one of "six specific chambers" that will receive part of an anticipated $40 million in spending:
Today, the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) and its legislative caucus, the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee (RLCC), announced their metrics and targets for the 2015-2016 election cycle, which the RSLC plans a $40 million budget for legislative races – a record for the organization. The metrics and targets were unveiled on a press call from the RLCC’s National Meeting in Boston with RLCC Chair and Iowa Speaker Kraig Paulsen, RLCC Vice-Chair and Texas Speaker Joe Straus, and RSLC President Matt Walter.
“We are coming off of an historic election night for Republicans at the state level where we won majorities in a record 69 of 99 state legislative chambers,” said Paulsen. “Now with a $40 million budget, we are ready to defend those historic majorities around the country while expanding to pick up new chamber majorities.”
The RSLC and RLCC will focus heavily on six specific chambers with the most likely path to new Republican majorities in 2016: the Colorado House, Kentucky House, Washington House, Iowa Senate, Minnesota Senate, and New Mexico Senate. Each of these states currently have split chambers – one with a Democrat majority and one with a Republican majority.
Given the impressive on-going messaging and session discipline on the part of the Minnesota Republican House Caucus under the leadership of Kurt Daudt, and the in-fighting in the Senate Majority after Bakk cut anti-environmental deals with Daudt's caucus while shafting state auditor Rebecca Otto in a late-night deal, the RSLC's focus on Minnesota might not be a bad investment.
Minnesota Public Radio reported in November that "Republicans won in nearly every district the [Mn Jobs Coalition] invested in . . . "
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