Via an item labeled LEADERSHIP in Friday's Ag Take (a partnership between Fluence Media and the AgriGrowth Council), we learn some surprising news in the Brownfield Ag News For America article Minnesota Milk Legislator of the Year:
A lawmaker from the Twin Cities has been named Minnesota Milk’s Legislator of the Year.
Representative Denny McNamara of Hastings is being recognized for his commonsense know-how.
“His business-mindedness behind the fact he even has his own tree care and landscaping business gives him that industry know-how. Of course the leadership qualities that he has have served him well and allowed him to make sound decisions.”
That’s Sangeetha Gummadi, policy relations manager with Minnesota Milk.
Given how Hoffman and McNamara Nursery Company popped up in an ethics accusation and lawsuit following this past session, we're surprised that any of McNamara's political allies would say such a thing.
We're also surprised that the one thing big dairy operations most desired (and got) from McNamara--eliminating the Citizens Board of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency--wasn't brought up by Gummadi (she's not a lobbyist, despite her title; rather, the milk producers use this guy as a contract lobbyist).
Perhaps that distance from the state capitol's influence industry spawned her misunderstanding.
We hate to see McNamara's dairy industry friends this confused in public about his business dealings, so we'll sort this out for them. It's hard to understand how else they missed in, since the nursery business was much in the news.
As Steve Brandt reported in the Star Tribune Blog Mpls post, Rep. Denny McNamara accused in ethics filing:
Two legislators have filed an ethics complaint against state Rep. Denny McNamara that alleges that he shouted accusations at them and that a landscaping and nursery business he formerly owned was getting less business from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
The two DFL legislators contend that the Hastings Republican threatened to expose an alleged Park Board threat against the family business unless they agreed to a proposal he favored to change how money flows to North Mississippi Regional Park..
But McNamara released a statement Monday that accused Park Board lobbyist Maryann Campo of making the threat to retailiate against a business he said is owned by his son. . . .
According to President Mike McNamara, the legislator's son, his father has not been involved in the Hastings-based Hoffman & McNamara landscaping business since selling it to him in 2004. However, McNamara's statement of economic interest filing still lists him as owner and partner in the business.
Real estate or plants?
That's not true. Bluestem Prairie took a closer look in What online public records reveal about Rep. Denny McNamara's real estate partnership:
In Chad Richardson's South Washington Bulletin story, Rep. McNamara points to threat against son's business after ethics complaint, published Friday afternoon, we read this passage:
. . . The reason Kahn and Rice were convinced that McNamara did in fact own the landscaping company was in part because they had pulled up McNamara’s statement of economic interest that all legislators must file with the state. In it, legislators list their sources of income and real estate.
McNamara’s statement lists him as an owner and partner in Hoffman and McNamara LLP, which is listed as a real estate business on the form.
Hoffman and McNamara Co. is the landscaping business and entirely separate from Hoffman and McNamara LLP, McNamara said.
“Hoff and I own that partnership together with our wives,” McNamara said. “We’ve had that partnership since 1975, I believe.”
When contacted June 9 and told about the two separate companies, Kahn said: “The names are the same. It’s hard to believe their not connected in some way. For all intents and purposes, it looks like he is the owner.” . . .
That question--and McNamara's statement that the limited liability partnership goes back to 1975--sent Bluestem to the online database of business record filings at the Minnesota Secretary of State's office. Readers can find our review of the documents in the earlier post.
We also requested all of Economic Interest Statements filed with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board by the Hasting Republican. Here's what we learned:
Representative McNamara has maintained that he sold Hoffman & McNamara Nursery and Landscaping to his son in 2004. This claim is consistent with his Economic Interest Statements (EIS) filed the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, which date back to 2002. Candidates, elected officials and many appointed officials are required to file EIS under state law.
Bluestem requested all of Representative McNamara's filings before the current one that is available online. Here is the pdf that we received; the documents are arranged in reverse chronological order:
On page 57 of the document, there's a hand written note:
I receive a monthly payment from new owner of McNamara & Hoffman Co. I sold my share in March '04. Do I note that anywhere?
The EIS on which the note appears was filed on July 20, 2004. This information is consistent with Representative McNamara's repeated statements that he sold the company in 2004. As the note demonstrates, there's no attempt to conceal the monthly payment.
Real estate holdings
As Rep. McNamara points to threat against son's business after ethics complaint, the South Washington Bulletin's Richardson reports:
McNamara’s statement lists him as an owner and partner in Hoffman and McNamara LLP, which is listed as a real estate business on the form. [link added by BSP]
With the creation of GIS mapping sites, it is possible to look up information about the parcels owned by Hoffman & McNamara LLP. Public officials are required to list properties held in partnerships.
The section of land that Hoffman & McNamara LLP owns in Big Stone County is classified as "waste land;" 100 acres are wetland. It likely is dandy hunting ground. St. Louis County's GIS site isn't set up for searches by owners, so we are not able to determine information about this property; we don't know if it's owned by McNamara or the partnership.
However, the Dakota County Property Information Online service does. The most recent McNamara EIS lists 150 acres at Section 12, T114, RI and 12 acres at 9045 180th St E, Hastings.
As we looked at the online images of the Hoffman and McNamara LLC landing holdings (screengrabs in the earlier post), we noticed that there's a lot of nursery stock growing on the Hoffman and McNamara LLC property, but we believe the stock is owned by the nursery company itself.
It's important to understand who runs the nursery company (not McNamara), since the Hoffman and McNamara Co (as opposed the LLC) receive substantial state contracts for plants. We examined this in Love McNamara's plan to rob landfill trusts? You'll adore raiding MVTF from Enviro Fund:
Hoffman and McNamara, the nursery McNamara built, then sold to his son, was paid $681,152 by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Department of Veterans Affairs in Budget Year 2015, a search of the agency payments to the business in the Open Checkbook reveals. . . .
As the screenshot above from another year illustrates, the mileage may vary depending on the year as far as the payments that Hoffman and McNamara Co receives. Whatever the payments are, they're not going to Representative McNamara.
Photo: Representative Denny McNamara (right), R-Hastings, gets an award from the Minnesota Milk Producers (cropped photo via Minnesota Milk's Facebook page).
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