ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — After easily securing a second term as Minnesota governor, Democrat Mark Dayton landed sizable checks toward his early-January inauguration, including some from corporations whose leaders favored the GOP nominee in the race.
Donations to his inaugural committee — many of which were several times the contribution limit for candidates before elections — totaled $195,000, according to a report recently filed with the Internal Revenue Service.
An analysis by The Associated Press shows that nine donors gave at least $10,000, and about 85 percent of the contributions came in after the inaugural events. Some checks flowed in as late as April, although a Dayton political adviser said it was a matter of money being collected months after it was pledged.
The adviser, campaign manager Katharine Tinucci, told the AP that Dayton didn’t personally solicit any of the money.
“He has not reviewed or even seen the list of donors and amounts, nor does he plan on reviewing the list,” she said Wednesday.
The top donor to the inaugural committee was water filtration company Pentair Inc., which gave $25,000. During the 2014 campaign, the company’s chief executive officer gave $2,000 to Republican nominee Jeff Johnson, but nothing to Dayton. A request for comment from the company was not immediately fulfilled Wednesday.
Delta Air Lines, the dominant carrier in Minnesota, gave $20,000. Dayton had received $4,000 from the company’s chief executive and $1,250 from its top lobbyist in 2014, according to state campaign records.
In a written statement, Delta said it was “proud to support the governor and his work on behalf of Minnesota businesses, communities, and the more than 10,000 Delta employees who call Minnesota home.”
Xcel Energy, Cargill Inc. and Archer Daniels Midland each contributed $10,000. Cargill’s top executive gave the maximum to Johnson and nothing to Dayton during the campaign.
Enbridge Energy, which has oil pipeline projects pending before regulators, donated $5,000.
The report, filed Friday, wasn’t publicly available in an IRS database until this week.
State law bars direct corporate donations to candidates during a campaign. But inaugural donations are not considered campaign contributions, so state laws don’t restrict the timing, size or source of the money, said Gary Goldsmith, executive director of the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.
Edwin Bender, executive director of the National Institute on Money in State Politics, said it’s common to see five- or six-figure checks to inaugural committees that operate with fewer restrictions and less public scrutiny.
“Inaugural committees are often used by donors who either didn’t support the winning candidate to later support them or to double down on their prior support,” Bender said.
Dayton’s committee held a special dinner for major inaugural donors ahead of his “blue jeans ball” that featured bands, light snacks and a cheaper admission. Tinucci said Dayton appeared briefly at the dinner.
Long-standing allies of Dayton contributed heavily to the inauguration: the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Council 5, which represents thousands of state employees, gave $15,000; and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe kicked in a combined $17,500.
The committee’s filing showed that consulting fees, catering and event space rental were the biggest expenses for inaugural festivities that cost $166,000.
Money left unspent after final bills are paid will be donated to charity, Tinucci said.
Laws governing inauguration fundraising vary around the country. Louisiana law caps inaugural contributions at $5,000 and requires reporting to the state ethics board. Contributions are capped at $5,000 per person. The law was rewritten in 2008 to add those requirements. Maryland enacted a law this spring adding disclosure requirements for the first time. In other places, including Wisconsin and Arkansas, the state party handles fundraising and sells sponsorships.
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