Back in the sunny days of early summer, Bluestem posted information gleaned from reading federal campaign finance reports in From the fascinating FEC reports of the Republican Party of Minnesota: of counties, committees, and candidates.
With Senator Dave Thompson emerging as a frontrunner for new Senate Majority Leader, this passage gains some new relevance:
What is interesting, however, are the debts and payments to consultant Dave Thompson, who is also a high-profile freshman state senator. While running for state senate, Thompson seems to have been paid or contracted for $3750.00 a month. In the amended 2010 end-of-year report filed on April 25, 2011, Thompson's name appears on the list of people and businesses to whom the Republican party owes money. In this iteration of the year-end debt, Tony Sutton's federal account owed senator-elect Dave Thompson $7500 for "General Party Media Consulting."
He also had another politically-related job. Back in June 2010, PIM's Paul Demko reported that Thompson was pulling double-duty, serving as communications director for CD7 challenger Lee Byberg. Byberg's own FEC statements show that the congressional campaign appears to be on a separate contract; Byberg paid Thompson $1500 in early October. Perhaps Thompson was doing triple duty: candidate, congressional campaign comm director and general party media consultant (whatever that is).
In the next amended report for the RPM(Febuary 2011), also filed on April 25, 2011, Dave Thompson was owed $18750.00 during the month of January. Thus, one might infer that the Republican Party of Minnesota retained Senator Thompson for $11,250 worth of additional services for "General Party Media Consulting." Thompson was not paid in January 2011 though March 2011 for any of the 2010 debt.
This changes in the May report, which details financial activity during April 2011. Thompson received two equal payments during April for the $7500 owed for 2010, when he was a candidate and consultant, while the $11,250 of consulting work from January 2011 remains charged as a debt.
I'll leave the questions of what it means for a political party to hire a candidate during a campaign for people more versed in campaign ethics than myself.
What's troubling here, though, is not just that the RPM can manage to pay off one of its own, while simultaneously preaching about cities and counties living within their means--and not paying bills to Minnesota counties for work it insisted had to be done. It's that Thompson performed $11,250 worth of work in the few days in January before he was sworn into office--and that the Republican Party thought this was special enough not to tighten its belt and live within its means, but worthy enough to rack up more bills as if on an extended New Year's bender.
Although he campaigned on cutting spending, Thompson had so far taken the max allowable amount of per diem, PIM's Briana Bierschbach reported in late April.
An assistant majority leader in the senate although a freshman, Thompson has been a high-profile figure in Senate Majority leader Michael Brodkorb's caucus. It's fair to say that not even Michele Bachmann commanded such attention as a first-term legislator (and she was very much disliked immediately with the caucus, I've been told by lawmakers and former GOP staff alike). I think this is a bigger problem internally for the GOP than it is a public concern, however irritating the triple-dipping might be.
Still, the activity sends a signal to Thompson's constituents that he is more interested in serving party goals than representing the public he serves. It bolsters the point Tom Bakk made about the GOP lawmakers' cult (and Thompson seems to be making that faith work for his own career, however late the checks may arrive).
It's most likely all legal-- though there might be so much dancing going on here it could be an ecstasy-laced rave at old man Drazkowski's farm--but the paper trail of payments and per diems undercuts the messages about austerity that Thompson was hired to craft during the campaigns and after. This is, after all, the caucus run by a communications director who is also deputy MNGOP state chair.
Oh, and it's good to be senator. (But not a county, even those that vote Republican).
That was posted on June 1. While the DFL has filed its December 2011 report with the FEC, that from the Republican Party of Minnesota has yet to put in an appearance on the FEC web site. Monthly reports were due yesterday. Stay tuned.