Under GOP pressure, Nolan cancels fundraiser

WASHINGTON - Eighth District DFL Congressman Rick Nolan's campaign canceled a scheduled fundraiser with singer Peter Yarrow in Duluth Friday evening. Republicans had criticized Nolan's association with Yarrow, who served a brief jail sentence more than 40 years ago for an inappropriate relationship with a 14 year old girl.

On Friday, the National Republican Campaign Committee began running online ads in the 8th District that accused Nolan of "putting sex offenders ahead of Minnesota families."

Nolan's campaign acknowledged that the fundraiser did not take place. In an email, campaign manager Kendal Killian did not address the controversy directly and said, ""Let's focus now on middle-class families and the issues that matter."

Yarrow, of Peter, Paul and Mary fame, served three months in prison in 1970 for "taking immoral and improper liberties" with the girl after a concert. President Jimmy Carter pardoned Yarrow in 1981. Yarrow is no stranger to political fundraisers -- the nonprofit Sunlight Foundation shows the singer has hosted at least three other fundraisers for Democratic candidates in the last five years.

In an interview with WDIO earlier on Friday before the event was canceled, Nolan condemned Yarrow's behavior with the girl but said he believed Yarrow had redeemed himself over the past 40 years.

"What [Yarrow] did some 40 years ago was wrong and it was terrible. You know, having said that, he has spent a lifetime redeeming himself doing a lot of good things for a lot of people, and I just happen to be one of those people who believes in forgiveness; believes in redemption," Nolan told the station.

Nolan faces a well-funded challenge from Republican businessman Stewart Mills. The Mills campaign said in a statement that "all of us expect better from Rick Nolan."

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is Member supported public media. Show your support today, donate, and ensure access to local news and in-depth conversations for everyone.