ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gripped by tight limits during the campaign, labor unions wrote hefty checks to a post-election account for Democrat Mark Dayton after it appeared clear he would win Minnesota’s close race for governor.
A newly filed report with the IRS shows organized labor was a key financial force behind Dayton’s recount and transition efforts. The report was filed after business hours Monday.
All told, Dayton pulled in just short of $1.9 million after the election. An analysis by The Associated Press of donations found more than one-third came from political committees connected to unions.
Ken Martin, who directed Dayton’s post-election efforts, said labor unions weren’t about to let the chance for the first Democratic governor in 20 years fall away during the Dayton’s automatic recount with Republican nominee Tom Emmer.
“People were protecting what they fought so hard for in the election itself,” Martin said. “It’s no surprise they would make sure during the recount they were investing as well.”
Many unions, including some representing Minnesota public employees, gave the Dayton Transition Fund/Dayton Recount Fund 25 times more than the maximum they were able to guide his way during the fall campaign. One union, the national office of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, wrote a $125,000 check.
The maximum donation to candidates before the election was $2,000. There are no limits on what donors can give to recount, transition or inaugural funds.
To put the post-election donations in perspective, Dayton raised several hundred thousand dollars more from outside contributions after the election than during the campaign. Dayton, a department store heir, was by far the biggest contributor to his own campaign.
Three teachers unions, including the major state player Education Minnesota, threw in $150,000 among them. The Minnesota Association of Professional Employees gave Dayton’s fund $75,000; MAPE and Education Minnesota had backed a Dayton rival before the Democratic primary.
The Democratic National Committee and Democratic Governors Association contributed a combined $400,000, and Dayton’s father sent him $250,000.
On the business side, the political arms of drug manufacturer Pfizer Inc. and grocery store giant SuperValu Inc. both made five-figure donations.
During the campaign, unions and other left-leaning organizations made significant donations to outside groups that ran ads targeting Emmer and the Independence Party’s Tom Horner. By law, the outside groups operated independent of Dayton.
Dayton’s post-election spending was on staff, rent, equipment and consultants. The reports, which go through Dec. 31, don’t include much of his legal tab from the recount.
Martin said those bills have since been paid and exceeded $700,000.
For his part, Emmer didn’t set up any IRS-regulated accounts after the election. His recount expenses were routed through the state Republican Party, a required report for which is due to be made public on Tuesday.
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