Back at the beginning of January, Bluestem wrote about some management changes at a slush fund Tony Sutton had set up in the waning days of Tom Emmer's recount campaign:
In mid-December, Bluestem noted that Daniel Puhl, go-to FEC compliance guy for Minnesota federal office candidates and agent for the recount fund, had moved on to a higher calling as the CFO and Director of Administration for the Republican National Committee.
That move is now reflected in Count Them All Properly, Inc's filing at the Minnesota Secretary of State's office. On December 15, papers were filed naming Mary Igo as CTAPI's registered agent.
According to December 20, 2011 annual filing, the new CEO is Maple Grove's Jon Richard Schroeder, owner of Maple Grove firm that represents manufacturers of heating and plumbing supplies. Schroeder has no record of large giving to the Republican Party on the state or federal level, according to databases at the Minnesotan Campaign Finance Board and the FEC. And while Maple Grove is located in SD32, there's no evidence of Republican activism by the businessman at the local GOP website (albeit the page hasn't been updated for months).
Igo is well-known in Republican circles; Schroeder, apparently not so much. Given the large role this entity now plays in determining the financial well-being of the Republican Party of Minnesota, it bears watching.
Over the weekend, news in the Star Tribune confirmed that suggestion. In GOP firm's 'CEOs' in the dark, Baird Helgeson reports:
The company was incorporated in late 2010 by Daniel Puhl, a former administrator for the Republican National Committee who specializes in helping political parties, businesses and candidates work with the Federal Elections Commission.
About two weeks later, a CEO was listed: Jon Richard Schroeder.
Like Fraley, Schroeder says he had never heard of the company or agreed to be its chief executive.
"I have no idea how my name got on there," said Schroeder, who runs a heating and air conditioning company in Maple Grove. "I have never been associated with them."
As recount debt piled up, Schroeder said he started getting calls from people looking for the CEO. He told them the same thing: It's not me; call someone else.
Months later, Schroeder's name was replaced in state records with a new CEO: George Fraley.
"We have no idea how that happened," [Mary] Igo said. "There is no reason why any of them should have been attached to it."
Puhl said he no longer has any ties to the company. He said he has no idea how two erroneous CEOs were listed.
Igo says that the group was so not set up to hide anything:
A top official with Count Them All Properly said there is nothing unseemly about the company or its operations.
"It is legitimate, it was not a hiding opportunity for debt," said Mary Igo, the company's newly listed chief executive and a veteran GOP activist.
The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board is investigating Count Them All Properly as part of its inquiry into the state Republican Party.
For regulators, watchdog groups and those owed money, it has been unclear who had been in charge of Count Them All Properly.
In the last two years, Count Them All Properly has listed two CEOs, both of whom say they have never heard of the company. Count Them All Properly has no corporate office, no phone number and no website. It does, however, have roughly $500,000 in debt, mostly to recount lawyers.
The origins of County Them All Properly, Inc.,aren't that mysterious. In February 1, 2011 MPR reported in MNGOP won't disclose recount fundraising:
The Republican Party of Minnesota and Republican Tom Emmer's campaign for governor will not disclose the money it raised to help with the recount. Minnesota Republican Party Chair Tony Sutton said today that the group created a separate corporate account, Count Them All Properly Inc., for their recount efforts. He said they won't disclose the amount of money raised or by whom -- and state and federal laws don't require them to release it.
The Strib reports that state investigators and the Republican Party (now under new management) are trying to sort things out as they dive into the creative accounts Sutton left the MNGOP. From the article:
The questions surrounding Count Them All Properly grow even more pressing as state Republican Party leaders and unpaid lawyers sort out who is liable for the recount debt. Sutton signed an agreement with attorney Tony Trimble saying the state GOP would pay the bills, but so far the new party leaders have not publicly committed to honoring the debt. State Party Chairman Pat Shortridge declined to comment for this story.
Image: Tild's evergreen image, the Tony Sutton peso.