The state Republican party is accusing Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner of receiving an illegal campaign contribution.
GOP officials filed a complaint today with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, claiming Horner colluded with pollster Bill Morris and his Minneapolis-based research company Decision Resources. Michael Brodkorb, deputy chairman of the state Republican party, says Horner needs to explain how his campaign obtained information from a statewide poll on the race for governor that had not yet been made public.
“It appears because of a business relationship and a personal relation that he has with Bill Morris, he’s been provided with that poll information,” Borodkorb said. “Decision Resources is a corporation and they just can’t give out their poll information to campaigns for free. And we would deem that to be a corporate contributions, and it would need to be returned.”
We’ve tried to get some reaction from Horner, but he has not returned phone calls.
Horner’s campaign manager, Stephen Imholte, sent out this statement:
The Minnesota Republican Party is in full desperation mode. Their candidate is sinking, and instead of acknowledging their blunder in selecting an extremist candidate, they choose to go on the attack.
Minnesotans want more from their candidates this year. They want candidates who are addressing the issues of jobs, education and Minnesota’s budget deficit. The survey is available to the Minnesota Republican Party. Perhaps they should use it to understand their candidate’s shortcomings in the eyes of Minnesotans.
The Horner campaign learned last week of the survey being conducted by Decision Resources Ltd. Decision Resources was contacted by Stephen Imholte, campaign manager, who asked when the data might be available.
Imholte was informed that it was being released exclusively to the Pioneer Press on Sunday, June 6. Dr. Bill Morris provided the Horner campaign with data only after the survey information had been released to the newspaper. Before releasing information to the Horner campaign, Dr. Morris confirmed that the same data were being released to the Pioneer Press, and other campaigns and candidates at their request.
After the Pioneer Press news article was posted on the newspaper’s web site, the Horner campaign released its own commentary on the findings through Twitter, Facebook and to other news media. It developed its analysis from the data provided by Decision Resources after release to the news media.
Decision Resources routinely conducts in-house surveys and occasionally releases findings to the news media. This survey covered a range of topics on Minnesota issues and the Minnesota gubernatorial race. The survey was not specific to any candidate but was a general overview of Minnesota issues. While the principals of Decision Resources are supporters of Tom Horner, the Horner campaign was not involved in any way in the design of the survey and had no knowledge of the findings until after its release to the news media.
If the Republican Party sincerely believed there was a violation, it would have asked for this background instead of wasting the time of the Minnesota Campaign and Finance Disclosure Board. Instead, the party of no ideas now also seems to have no campaign strategy or message for Minnesotans.