In No small potatoes: Dept of Natural Resources requires EAW for pinelands to spud fields project, Bluestem noted the $50,000 contribution by R.D. Offutt, the potato industry leader that's deforesting parts of northern Minnesota, to the Minnesota Jobs Coalition Legislative IE Fund.
The MJC is credited as being one of the forces that flipped the Minnesota House; Ben Golnik, its chair, has become the executive director of the Minnesota House Republican Caucus.
The company itself funded the group, but several Offutt family members also gave campaign contributions to Representative Denny McNamara (R-Hastings), who was the lead Republican on the House Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee in the last session.
From the searchable contribution database at the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board:
McGovern, Keith 09-17-2014 McNamara, Dennis House Dist. 54B Committee RDO $250.00
McGovern, Rondi 09-17-2014 McNamara, Dennis House Dist. 54B Committee RDO $250.00
Neal, Scott 09-16-2014 McNamara, Dennis House Dist. 54B Committee RDO $500.00
Keith McGovern and Scott Neal are the sons-in-law of RDO director emeritus Ron Offutt; Rondi is his daughter.
While that's a mere $1000--dwarfed by the privately-held company's contribution to Golnik's PAC--there's a fair chance that the donors (who don't appear to live in McNamara's district) understood that McNamara would once again chair the committee with oversight of the Department of Natural Resources budget.
Perhaps the company's $50,000 payment to Golnik's PAC had something to do with 2013-2014 chair Jean Wagenius (DFL-Minneapolis) getting booted from the committee entirely, in contradiction to House custom to approve minority caucus picks for committee minority leads.
According to Minnesota Legislators Past and Present, McNamara chaired the committee in the 2011-2012, and became the minority when the DFL retook the House in the 2012 election. The courtesy was discontinued with the ascendance of Speaker Daudt and Golnik.
Money changes everything, like the lady sings. For ourselves, we find ourselves wondering where the spring warblers, the songbirds that pass through these parts in April and May, one of the great migrations, will go if their summer nesting habitat has become farmland--or, further north, tar sands pits.
Money changes everything.
Photo: Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Committee chair. Rep. Denny McNamara, who appears to have benefited from the Offutt family largesse, both direct and indirect.
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