Loon-Kihne: Via Civis Communications, Minnesota Family Council made $11,764 Comcast media buy

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House District 48B primary challenger Sheila Kihne and her allies like to claim her bid to topple incumbent Republican state representative Jenifer Loon isn’t about Loon’s 2013 vote for marriage equality.

Nonetheless, a recent $11,764 ad buy by the Minnesota Family Council in Comcast’s Twin Cities Southwest cable market suggests there’s probably some link to the issue.

A key supporter of Minnesotans for Marriage, the Family Council supported 2012’s failed amendment to restrict the right to marry, as well as the 2013 law extending the right to marry to all loving adult couples.

According to information supplied to Bluestem Prairie, the MFC purchased cable time between June 16, 2014 and June 29, 2014, on AFN, CNN, Discovery, ESPN, FSNO, FXNC, History Channel, Lifetime, TNT, TWC and USA channels.

We’re asking sources in the area about the content of the ads.

This article is reposted from TCDP media partner Bluestem Prairie. Check out the links below for other recent Bluestem Prairie stories:

The Minnesota primary is August 12, 2014.

There’s little question that the group supports Kihne. On the Minnesota Familiy Council’s website’s 2014 Elections page, the group notes in Primary Elections to Watch: District 48B (Eden Prairie): Sheila Kihne:

Sheila Kihne, a resident of Eden Prairie, is running for the state House seat currently held by Jenifer Loon.

Sheila is a good example of what it means to TURN THE LIGHTS BACK ON in Minnesota this year!

Sheila is running in the Republican primary against an incumbent who, despite her pledge to constituents to support traditional marriage, voted for same-sex marriage last year. Sheila’s opponent also previously voted FOR an “anti-bullying” bill that violated religious freedoms–and then flip-flopped to vote against the “anti-bullying” bill this session after political pressure. Sheila’s opponent’s largest donors include some of the same folks from outside MN who write big checks to liberal politicians like Al Franken and President Obama, who do not support traditional family values.

Sheila is a trusted, principled conservative who supports restoring fiscal responsibility to our government and has experience as a business owner. She shares our common values for life, marriage, and religious freedom.

The group’s political action committee, the MFC Action PAC, lists $0 cash on hand in its 2014 May Report of Receipts and Expenditures, filed with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board on June 13, 2014.

The Minnesota Family Council Marriage Protection Fund May 2014 report filed with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board lists a zero balance for COH. It is a Ballot Question Committee and Political Fund, rather than a traditional PAC.

We’re working to learn about the content of the ad and whether it was an “issue” ad or one that contained “expressed advocacy” for Kihne or against Loon.

The Agency and Minnesota conservatives

Who’s putting together this package to turn the lights back on in Minnesota’s closets? The agency that the MFC is using, Civis Communications, is managed by Michael Scholl, who also happens to be Executive Director of the Freedom Club.

In a February 2012 portrait, Stealth donor gives millions to GOP candidates, causes, Minnesota Public Radio’s Ton Scheck reported:

Robert Cummins and his family have given millions to conservative Minnesota candidates over the past 15 years. And to Republican insiders they are very well known. . . .

While he’s given hundreds of thousands of dollars to organizations advancing a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, he’s also launched political careers. And the Freedom Club — a group he founded that gives exclusively to conservative candidates — is credited with helping fund Republican victories in 2010.

The Freedom Club, whose director also runs a Cummins-owned political consultancy, recently waded into the debate over Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget proposal and the elimination of some union rules. . . .

Cummins’ latest business venture, political consulting firm Civis Communications, overlaps with his political interests and political allies.

Former state Republican Party Chairman Tony Sutton says Cummins introduced him to Civis’ Executive Director Mike Scholl in a meeting with Cummins in 2009. The same year, the party hired Civis to improve voter identification, a painstaking process that’s usually done by going door to door with a pen and paper and entering voter information into a database by hand, Sutton said.

The GOP paid Civis nearly $40,000 to rent Blackberry cellphones that could upload voter information automatically to a central database. Under Sutton’s tenure, Civis earned an additional $42,500 for general political consulting.

Civis has ties to the Freedom Club as well. Since 2011, Scholl has served as the club’s executive director. Between 2008 and 2010, the Freedom Club state PAC paid Civis $158,318 for voter identification efforts, polling and computer services, according to state campaign finance reports. . . .

Once upon a time in 2010, Joan Cummins, Robert Cummins’ spouse, gave VOICES of Conservative Women State PAC $25,000, but the family has given nothing since. VOICES has endorsed Loon for the August 12 primary.

This year’s spending

But the connections between Cummins and conservatives don’t end with 2012. The 2014 May Report of Receipts and Expenditures by the Freedom Club State PAC reveal that Cummins contributed $75,000 to the group, which in turn gave $100,000 to the Republican Party of Minnesota.

The Republican Party of Minnesota state and federal accounts do not show payments to Civis Communications this year. As noted earlier, the Minnesota Family Council’s PAC showed a zero balance, with nothing taken in and nothing spent.

We’ll have more on the story as it develops.