All in the Family

Minnesota Democrat Governor Mark Dayton has named a new Lt. Governor running mate for his 2014 re-election run.  As expected, he named his current chief of staff and power behind the throne, Tina Smith.

Chief Smith’s demotion has triggered a reshuffle within the Dayton administration, one that highlights the incestuous ties between the state’s highest ranking elected official and the big money groups that support his campaigns.

The announcement itself occurred at a most unusual location, state headquarters of the AFL-CIO labor union.   The state AFL-CIO donated more than $500,000 to Democrats during the period 2007-2012.  Ms. Smith herself has long been associated with Planned Parenthood, a six-figure Democrat donor organization in 2012.

Planned Parenthood has a seat on the board of Alliance for a Better Minnesota.  ABM sits at the heart of the Democrat money machine.  ABM’s executive director Carrie Lucking is the better half of Dayton Deputy Chief of Staff Bob Hume.

WIN Minnesota is the primary fundraising arm of ABM.   WIN’s 2007-2012 donations of $1.9 million rank the group as the state’s 4th largest.  ABM’s Executive Director, Adam Duininick, is married to incoming chief of staff Jaime Tincher. 

WIN’s former head, Ken Martin, is now the head of the state’s Democrat party.  His wife, Jennifer O’Rourke, now serves as yet another Deputy Chief of Staff to Gov. Dayton.

Bringing it all back home, WIN board member and the state’s No. 1 political donor, Alida Rockefeller Messinger, is Gov. Dayton’s ex-wife.

If you feel like you need a program to tell the players, it’s because you do.  If this web of influence existed in a Republican administration, local media would report the story as a scandal, with each detail as evidence of the most vile corruption at work.  In the case of Democrats—if the media report the story at all—it’s played as a cute public interest angle.

Here is the challenge for local media and good government types:  if you are serious about the influence of money in politics, you have be serious all the time, regardless of who is in power.

The state’s largest Democrat donors have access to the inner sanctum of the Governor’s office: either directly or indirectly through marriage.  And because they are there, the rest of us will never get at fair shake.