Independent expenditure groups form as campaign season heats up


As the campaign season continues to heat up, a new round of independent expenditure committees are up and running in Minnesota. The U.S. Supreme Court decision Citizens United and a subsequent Minnesota Supreme Court decision have opened the floodgates for these groups to prop up or oppose candidates, and Minnesota now has twelve such groups, seven of which have formed in the last three months. Two of those independent expenditure groups have registered with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board within the last week – and their purposes could not be more different. 

Over the past few months, Minnesotans have been exposed to the work of independent expenditure committees, most notably MN Forward, a group that received support from Target and Best Buy, which made headlines for its endorsement of GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. Others have been running ads as well: The Alliance for a Better Minnesota has already produced five ads attacking Emmer, while Minnesota’s Future has hit area television airwaves with a spot attacking DFL candidate Mark Dayton.

The chair of Minnesota’s Future, Chris Tiedeman, registered a new such group last week: Committee to Stop Wasteful Spending.

“We haven’t set our plans yet, but to the extent we do get involved it will be in state races,” said Tiedeman. “We will likely focus on jobs and the economy.”

The treasurer for the committee is Joe Droogsma, who was treasurer for both Allen Quist’s failed bid for the GOP endorsement in Minnesota’s First Congressional district and Rep. Michele Bachmann’s 2006 campaign. Formerly a member of the College Republican National Committee, Tiedeman was on Mitt Romney’s Minnesota steering committee.

On the other side of the aisle, Corey Day of Strategic Field Concepts is heading up the Impact Minnesota Political Fund. “Impact Minnesota will be engaged in voter activation in the African American community,” said Day. “After this election cycle, we’ll be recruiting African American candidates and give them the resources to run for office.”

Day says governor’s race will be the main concern for the group over the next few months, though. “We’re looking to get the community excited about the top of the ballot.”

Experienced in Democratic politics, Day ran Patty Wetterling’s 2006 campaign against Bachmann, and prior to that he worked as an aide to Rep. Betty McCollum and former Rep. Martin Sabo.

Other independent expenditure committees that are active this cycle include the 2010 Fund, which is affiliated with WIN Minnesota, another such group. Clean Water Action Independent Fund; Minnesotans for Personal Choice & Competition in Health Care; and Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund are three new issue-oriented committees. Freedom Club Victory Committee IEC is affiliated with the national conservative group of the same name, and Working America Minn Political Fund is backed by the AFL-CIO.