Has Tom Emmer scored the ultimate product placement for his congressional campaign by appearing in a testimonial ad for a Twin Cities general contractor? Or does the ad skirt campaign funding regulations?
Emmer is the apparent frontrunner for the Republican endorsement in the open seat created in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District with the retirement of Representative Michele Bachmann.
This morning he doesn't disappoint Bluestem's expectations for providing great blogger fodder, as he gives a short testimonial for Integrity Exteriors and Remodelers, Inc., an Anoka-based general contractor with headquarters in Anoka. According to records on file with the Minnesota Secretary of State's office, Andrew Dahlberg, Elk River, serves as Chief Executive Officer of the firm.
A quick check with the Federal Election Commission and the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board individual contributor databases reveals that Dahlberg does not appear to have made any federal or state campaign contributions large enough to require disclosure by either agency.
The ad may raise eyebrows--if not legal questions--because Emmer introduces the testimonial ad as a candidate running for congress, while standing before a yard sign. Here's the text of the 31-second ad:
When the storm settles, there's only one clear choice. Integrity Exteriors and Remodelers.
"Hi. My name is Tom Emmer and I'm running for congress in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District.
"If you're looking for someone to do remodeling, siding, or general construction, residential or commercial, I can tell you without qualification, you need to call the folks at Integrity Exteriors and Remodelers. They're the best.
The innovative product placement commercial raises several questions that are hard to answer on a Sunday. Who is paying for the ad? The producer creates ads for Channel 45, as we will explain below; and the Youtube description notes "As seen on the CW Twin Cities channel 23."
Can a candidate appear in a commercial for a private business? If so, does the ad count as a per diem expense? Does the opportunity for paid air time count as an ad for Emmer? Should he have uttered the magic words, "I'm Tom Emmer and I approve this message"?
Here's the ad (update 10/2/2013: the original has been pulled, so here's the version from Crooks and Liars; Bluestem did download the original file on Youtube):
The Producers: Psycho Originals
The Youtube of the commercial is uploaded to the Psychooriginalz channel. Psychooriginalz bills itself on the channel as "A full scale production company based in Osceola, Wisconsin. Taking pride in producing, real, original, and lasting media."
Psycho Originals has humble beginnings, in the small Midwestern town of Osceola, WI. But to find the true origin of Psycho Originals, you must first go to a time before the company even existed.
Total Non-stop Wrestling, or TNW, was a backyard wrestling federation in Osceola, Wisconsin founded by then fourteen years old Travis Johnson and fifteen years old Alan Stober in July of 2004. This in all respects was the first incarnation of what would then become Psycho Originals. . . .
Psycho Originals LLC officially came into existence in April of 2010. In June of 2010, Travis Johnson rented a 900 square foot space in downtown Osceola, Wisconsin intended to become the headquarters for the business. With almost no real-life business experience, Travis contacted suppliers and soon turned the empty space into “Psycho Originals Audio and Visual Design.” With such a little area, Travis turned 700 square feet of it into a record store selling CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays, etc. video games, and vinyl records. 100 square feet into office space/recording studio, and 100 square feet into storage. . . .
Twice in a matter of three years, Psycho Originals is brought to the brink of extinction. Then a chance encounter happened with Travis and the owner of the American Wrestling Federation in late 2011.
Psycho Originals was put in charge of filming their TV show on channel 45 in the Twin Cities metro. A very strange event considering wrestling is what founded Psycho Originals way back in 2004, and ended it in 2009! After filming a few shows, Psycho Originals was contacted about making local commercials for Channel 45 in the Twin Cities.
Photo: Screenshot of the Emmer testimonial ad for Integrity Exteriors and Remodelers.
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