Emmer goes after Horner on government contracts

Republican Tom Emmer is targeting Independence Party candidate Tom Horner’s past PR contracts with state government. In a news release, Emmer criticized Horner for receiving government contracts during his time at Himle Horner (read the story here). Here’s the release from Emmer:

“No wonder Tom Horner wants to raise billions in new taxes and grow government at a double-digit percentage increase. Horner has milked government for millions of dollars in lucrative contracts,” Emmer said at a campaign appearance in Faribault. “Tom Horner wants to maintain business-as-usual even though voters know that the status quo is not working.”

The Star Tribune reported today that Tom Horner’s firm Himle Horner has received millions from state and local governments to write speeches, rehab the Department of Transportation’s image after the 35W bridge collapse, and for work on the Northstar commuter rail project.

“Tom Horner believes that struggling Minnesota families and businesses owe government more of their money in the worst economy in two generations to help line Mr. Horner’s pockets. My perspective is different: I think government should do its most important tasks well, but we can only create jobs and keep our economy moving by making government live within its means.”

Horner campaign spokesman Matt Lewis issued this statement on Emmer’s critcism.

Any candidate for governor who views his opponent’s demonstrated ability to work with local units of government as a detriment is going to have some serious problems trying to lead the state of Minnesota.

But on a larger note, is this a game that Rep. Emmer really wants to play? Tom Horner’s public clients have always been visible. Horner actually took the extraordinary step of completely divesting from his firm and relieving himself of all clients and all potential conflicts of interest.

It’s more than we ask of Rep. Emmer and other sitting legislators. We don’t even require that Rep. Emmer tell us which industries and clients he is representing while he is actually voting as a member of the legislature. But I don’t care to get into a back and forth on who Rep. Emmer. I think Minnesotans are focused on the policies and the vision that all three candidates are offering in this election, Rep. Emmer’s ideas included. And when past clients have arisen in policy discussions Tom Horner has actively volunteered that info.

Horner has a background of working with a wide range of groups from Northstar, as Rep. Emmer suggests, to the Hospitals, to Project 515 to the Chamber of Commerce, which endorsed Rep. Emmer. Mr. Horner has run a business, has been active in organizations ranging from Catholic Charities to Serve Minnesota, has run a U.S. Senate office, taught at St. Thomas and done much more. All of these experiences help shape his knowledge and ability to create coalitions around key issues facing the state.

Since he brought up the budget though, I also think that his campaign needs to address the reality that MPR’s PoliGraph pointed out last week.

Emmer isn’t the only one targeting Horner. The DFL Party is criticizing Horner in a new web video. They argue he’s ignoring the problems facing the middle class.