Spokesman McClung to leave Pawlenty's office

Brian McClung
Brian McClung is seen here in a file photo. His resignation was on announced Wednesday, June 16, 2010, and that his last day on the job would be the following Friday. McClung has worked for Pawlenty for six years.
MPR Photo/Steve Mullis

Gov. Pawlenty's top spokesman, Brian McClung, is leaving the governor's office to direct a new political fund.

McClung will start directing the group called MN Forward on Monday. The Minnesota Business Partnership's Charlie Weaver said the fund will aim to influence the governor's race and races in the Minnesota Legislature through advertising and campaign literature. He said it will raise money from business leaders and corporations.

"It could be five bucks, it could be $500,000," Weaver said. "We really don't know at this point. We're just starting to talk to companies around the state on this. There's certainly an alertness to the importance of this election."

MN Forward is the second fund to announce that it intends to take corporate money. Mike Dean, executive director of the government watchdog group, Common Cause, says he's concerned the new corporate funds will influence state politics.

"We really think that this group isn't really about moving Minnesota forward. It's going to be about using campaign contributions to get special favors," he said. "This type of pay to play politics is really dominating Washington right now and now there's bringing this type of politics to Minnesota."

Pawlenty signed a bill into law earlier this month that allows corporations to spend money to influence elections, but not give directly to candidates.

Minnesota banned corporate spending on political races, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that corporations can spend money on things like advertising.

McClung's last day will be Friday.

McClung, 37, has worked for Pawlenty for nearly six years, starting out as press secretary and working his way up to deputy chief of staff last year.

The Republican governor said in a statement that McClung has been one of his closest advisers. Pawlenty's term runs through January and he isn't running for re-election. He says communications staffer Bruce Gordon will serve as his primary spokesman starting Monday.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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