Last week, in FECQ2: Freedom Force Communications continued lucrative relationship with Byberg Bluestem raised questions about the need for disclosure on the part of talk radio personality Scott Hennen to his audiences about the consulting fees his firm, Freedom Force Communications, is receiving from Lee Byberg's campaign.
Hennen regularly touts Byberg to listeners, but doesn't note that his business has received tens of thousands of dollars from the Willmar executive's political campaign.
A similar, but much smaller scale conflict is brewing in Minnesota's First Congressional District with weekly cable political affairs show host Al Travis Theilfoldt and the Quist for Congress Campaign. Under the name Al Travis, the Blue Earth resident hosts "Between the Lines," a show produced at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato.
According to his Linked In profile, Theilfoldt is:
Innovative Marketing Techniques
1994 – Present (18 years)
Owner and Chief of Marketing for Innovative Marketing Techniques. Innovative Marketing Techniques has been creating marketing plans for small to midsized companies for the last 16 years.
Producer/Host/ Marketing for "Between the Lines" a cable cast political program seen throughout Minnesota in 880,000 households.
Innovative Marketing Techniques also does marketing for companies using Social networking sites. Marketing on Social networking sites including but not limited to marketing on Facebook, and Marketing on Linked In.
Innovative Marketing Techniques also does marketing on the web through website marketing techniques.
Theilfoldt is also a consultant for the Quist campaign, according to the committee's Q2 2012 fundraising report to the FEC:
218 S Linton
Blue Earth, Minnesota 56013
Now, significant differences separate the Hennen-Byberg relationship and that enjoyed by Theilfoldt and Quist. Hennen is far more openly partisan and touts Byberg openly on the available podcast. The latest appearance by Quist in an episode of "Between The Lines" that's posted online at the Vimeo channel for Bethany Lutheran College is from December 2011. The BLC Studios Facebook page is here.
Parry appeared in 2011 before he announced his bid for Congress.
To be fair to his audiences, Travis-Theilfoldt should disclose his paid consultant status to viewers of "Between the Lines" any time the First Congressional District race is brought up.
And there may be more entanglements with Theilfoldt and the BLC Studios as well. Quist's first ad has just been posted on Youtube. Bluestem will leave aesthetic evaluation to mansplaining progressive bloggers in the Twin Cities; questions about the financial arrangements between a political affairs host, the college studio where he and his private company tape and produce BTLs and other video, and the Allen Quist campaign are far more interesting.
One of the videos on BLC Studio's Vimeo channel is posted on the school studio's Facebook page, with the note that Stone Path Studios created the video of the tank demolishing a house in Kasota. Go to Stone Path Studios' Facebook page, and the first thing you'll see is the cover photo, of Allen Quist standing before a green screen (see photo above).
The Stone Path Facebook page's About section:
Stone Path Studios provides high-end media productions to Christian and non-profit organizations and opportunities to Bethany Lutheran College students.
Stone Path Studios's mission is to provide high-end media productions to Christian and non-profit organizations at an affordable rate. The production company is student run and aims to provide educational opportunities for students to interact with and strengthen relationships with real world businesses.
Who owns Stone Path? Individuals? The college? On June 22, a photo was posted on Stone Path's page which talked about "our advisor," suggesting that this is a college group.
Will viewers of Between the Lines be told that "Al Travis" and student crews produce television ads for political candidates? Friends working in the news media don't get to have these sorts of conflicts of interest. Most news organizations have clear policies restricting journalists' involvement with political campaigns. We certainly can't demand that for Hennen and Theilfoldt, but ethics would suggest that they tell their audiences about the money changing hands when they cover those races in which they have clients.
The Quist ad:
Photos: Quist on the green screen at BLC Studios/Stone Path (above); Quist and a director who looks a lot like Between the Lines host and Quist consultant Al Travis Theilfoldt.
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