A Republican primary in a Minnesota House race is seeing spending that is starting to rival the outside spending in the gubernatorial primary.
Outside groups ranging from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce to the Minnesota Family Council have spent at least $50,000 on the race through July 23.
The race pits state Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, against Republican activist Sheila Kihne. A large part of the debate in the district revolves around Loon’s vote last year to legalize same-sex marriage. You can read my story on the race here.
According to ad purchases disclosed by TV stations, The Minnesota Family Council spent $32,000 on TV ads that boosted Kihne’s profile and criticized Loon’s spending.
The group, which lobbied against a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, has also bought newspaper ads and sent out campaign mailings in the race.
The family council has not disclosed its spending in the race in campaign finance reports, and spokeswoman Autumn Leva did not return repeated calls and emails to explain why. (Update: "All of our work in District 48B has been done as issue advocacy, not as express advocacy and thus is not subject to campaign finance board reporting," Leva told MPR News. Leva later clarified that issue advocacy from their 501(c)(4) is not subject to campaign finance disclosure.)
Several Loon backers say the council is spending the money through the group’s nonprofit so it can avoid disclosing its spending.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota House Republican Campaign Committee has also started spending on TV to help Loon win re-election.
State Rep. Pat Garofalo confirmed that $25,000 in TV ad spending is to help Loon win re-election. Loon currently serves as Deputy Minority Leader. Garofalo declined to share the ad with MPR News.
The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and an outside group known as Freedom Minnesota PAC are also spending on Loon’s behalf. Freedom Minnesota PAC is getting funded by business groups and supporters of same-sex marriage.
Loon has also spent roughly $6,000 from her campaign account on TV ads in her bid to win re-election.
Here’s a list of spending:
Loon (via Comcast Cable Public File)
HRCC (via Comcast Cable Public File)
MN Family Council (via Comcast Cable Public File)
Freedom MN PAC
$5926 in direct mail (via July Campaign Finance report)
Pro Jobs Majority (The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce)
The group is also sending out direct mail to support Loon but a spokeswoman for the group would not disclose the spending.
Voices of Conservative Women PAC and Women PAC
Voices of Conservative Women PAC President Jen DeJournett says the two groups are spending money on campaign mailings and Facebook ads to help get Loon reelected.