David Schultz, a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Law and Politics, has just sent out the following press release:
For immediate release
May 2, 2007
Special Interest Money in 06 Elections Influences 07 Legislative Session New report documents role of money in Minnesota politics
Political contributions to state candidates in the 2006 elections were dominated by special interests according to a new study released on Wednesday.
David Schultz, a Professor in the Graduate School at Hamline
University in St. Paul released a report on Wednesday detailing the role of money in the 2006 Minnesota elections. The report, the “Price of Admission 2006: Political Money Trends in Minnesota,” is the annual study Schultz has done on money and politics in Minnesota since 2000.
“The biggest news in the study is threefold,” according to
Schultz. “First, special interests—PACS, lobbyists, and large
individual donors—dominated the 2006 elections and destroyed the public finance system. Second, the cash advantage Minnesota DFLers had over the Republican Party was important to the Democrats’ victory in 06. Finally, special interest contributions to the legislature and the governor are affecting the 2007 legislative session.”
According to the study, over $132 million was spent by
candidates, the parties and legislative caucuses, and other political associations in 2006 to influence the elections or policy-making at the state capitol. In addition, over 70% of the nearly $50 million donated to state office candidates, the parties, and the caucuses in 2006 came from PACS, lobbyists, and large donors. “There is no question that Minnesota’s campaign finance system is broken,” said
Schultz. “If the goal of the 1994 reforms was to limit the role of these three types of contributors, then the law has now failed. Over 80% of the money donated to the four legislative caucuses is from these sources, over 75% of the money donated to Governor Pawlenty is from them, and over 60% of the donations to legislative candidates also came from PACs, lobbyists, and big donors.”
In addition, the study also revealed that the DFL party,
caucuses, and candidates enjoyed a significant cash advantage over the Republicans. “Democrats dominated Republicans in terms of hard and soft money contributions and they had a huge advantage in terms of independent expenditures. These advantages played out on election
day. For example, DFLers received 56% of all the contributions to legislative candidates in 2006, they then received 55% of the vote on election day, and were able to then take 65% of all the House and Senate seats. Money definitely helped them do as well as they did last year and it allowed them to turn a good year [for Democrats
nationally] into a great one for them in Minnesota.”
The only place where DFLers did not enjoy a cash advantage was in the governor’s race. Schultz noted how contributions to Tim Pawlenty were double of that to Mike Hatch. Quoting the report: “Pawlenty’s victory should not be viewed as a victory for him so much as a victory for the money he had and an ability to exploit Hatch’s weaknesses.”
The Report concludes by arguing that the 2007 legislative
session is taking place under the influence of an election where special interest money picked the House, Senate, and governor. “It amazes me that the public interest can be done at all when so much money by special interests is being thrown at our state officials,”said Schultz.
A complete copy of the report may be found at:
http://davidschultz.efoliomn2.com/index.asp by clicking on “Money in Minnesota Politics” on the left side of the page.
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David Schultz is Hamline University Professor in the Graduate School of Management where he teaches classes in government ethics and public policy. He is also a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School where he teaches election law, and the author of numerous books and articles on money and politics, campaign finance reform, and the media and politics.