Rachel Stassen Berger writes in the Morning Hot Dish email newsletter:
But the court said awarding $115,000 for each party -- a Republican attorney, DFL party attorneys and an independent Democratic attorney -- was “reasonable.” The awarding of $115,000 in fees will help the DFL’s bottom line , but the $115,000 for the Republican attorney will not help to alleviate the Republican Party’s debt. Although the party owes the attorney, Eric Magnuson, for legal work, Magnuson was working for an outside group called “Minnesotans for a Fair Redistricting.” The third $115,000 will go to Alan Weinblatt, a Democratic attorney. See the decision here.
Last year, MnIndy's Andy Birkey reported in Undisclosed money flows into Minnesota’s redistricting process:
Minnesotans for a Fair Redistricting shares the same address and some staffers as the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, a conservative think tank, according to a ProPublica report. Fair Redistricting’s address is listed as that of Annette and Jack Meeks, a husband and wife duo active in Republican politics who work for Freedom Foundation. Annette Meeks was on Tom Emmer’s Republican ticket for lieutenant governor in 2010.
The Meeks are also known for their certainty that gambling is bad, bad, bad, as witnessed by their service in executive roles at Citizens Against Gambling Expansion (CAGE).
Minnesotans for a Fair Redistricting is not registered with the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General Division of Charities, nor with the Campaign Finance and Disclosure Board. Guidestar's entry for the organization notes that it is registered with the IRS but no reports are available for it.
In June 2011, MPR's Tom Sheck reported in Briggs and Morgan lines up on GOP side of redistricting battle:
The Republican Party of Minnesota is working with an independent group, "Minnesotans for a Fair Redistricting," on redistricting efforts. . .
One of the citizens being represented by [former state Supreme Court Eric] Magnuson, Gregg Peppin, said a lot of the litigation work has been coordinated by the Minnesota Republican Party and "Minnesotans for a Fair Redistricting." He said the filing indicates that Briggs and Morgan will be working with attorney Tony Trimble on redistricting efforts for Republicans in Minnesota.
"They told me they were going to get a litigator and this confirms that," Peppin said about Magnuson's filing.
Minnesota Republican Party Chair Tony Sutton confirmed that Briggs and Morgan has been hired by "Minnesotans for a Fair Redistricting" but said he or other members of the MNGOP have nothing to do with the hiring. He said former MNGOP Chair Chris Georgacus [sic, link added] is heading "Minnesotans for a Fair Redistricting."
Got that? One consequence of Sutton's setting up a shell entity by which the Republican Party could avoid public transparency is that the party can't snag any of the money to cover its debts.
And some of those bills are from a different shell, Count Them All Properly, Inc. The Campaign Finance board rules that one was nothing but a ruse to circumvent the law, as we noted in That's some funny money: failed burrito baron, MNGOP, shell corp fined big time for recount.
How ironic that the Republican shell that actually pulls in some cash was set up properly, thus keeping a revenue stream out of party coffers at a time of dire need. The title of the New York Times article that reported the Express Scripts contribution says it all about transparency and the MNGOP: Groups Shield Political Gifts of Businesses,
Sutton was close to the Meeks, serving on the board of CAGE until he resigned following allegations that he used his party position to promote tribal gaming interests. Cindy Brucato wrote in Minnpost:
Minnesota GOP Chair Tony Sutton has decided to resign from the board of an anti-gambling group that is supported by the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association and close his consulting business, a move that may deflect questions about whether he exploited his party position to promote Indian gaming interests.
The decision, though, raises a broader question about how unpaid, highly influential political figures can earn a living without wading into the murk of conflict of interest.
Questions about Sutton were raised after activists on a carefully guarded email list, limited to party use, began receiving emails from Citizens Against Gambling Expansion (CAGE), an advocacy group that opposes expanding gambling in Minnesota beyond trbial-own casinos and is headed by former national Republican committeeman Jack Meeks.
The emails arrived as many Republican legislators are considering expanding gambling beyond the Indian-run casinos to deal with the state’s budget gap. As a longstanding CAGE board member, Sutton was asked by a member of the party’s executive committee whether he had provided the list, which he vehemently denied.
In an interview Sunday, Sutton said that the CAGE issue and his public affairs firm had become a distraction, but maintained there was no conflict of interest with his work as GOP party chair.
Perhaps poor Shortage is simply reaping the failed burrito baron's karmic reward.
Image: Tony Sutton's MNGOP currency, by Tild.