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Minn. county GOP fundraiser auctions legislators to highest bidders

The Carver County GOP took heat this week over a fundraiser that featured an auction that guaranteed face-time with legislators for the highest bidder.

According to an email sent to lobbyists, the auction included a chance to go shooting with U.S. Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen, and state Reps. Joe Hoppe, Kirk Stensrud and Ernie Leidiger, as well as Sen. Julianne Ortman.

An email, obtained by Common Cause Minnesota, reads, “Tired of the same old golf fundraisers?! Bid, online auction style, for an exclusive opportunity to be one of just five people on a shotgun sporting clays course walk/shoot (shooting is not required to participate) with your favorite legislator.”

The group also took a screen shot of the actual auction, which shows legislators in auction boxes.

“This political fundraiser confirms what many Minnesotans have felt for years: our legislators are being auctioned off to the highest bidder,” wrote Mike Dean of Common Cause. “Auctioning off the Speaker of the House, the chair of the Senate Tax Committee, chair of the House Commerce and Regulatory Reform committee, the Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Workforce Committee gives lobbyists access to directly influence policy.”

Dean said his group would look into legislation to bar these types of activities.

“It’s time we take the ‘for sale’ sign off our government, so that it works for working and middle class Minnesotans,” he said. “That politicians are allowed to auction themselves off to lobbyists shows why the political system is broken.”

City Pages spoke with the organizer of the auction.

“Here’s the problem with the site,” Joe Emmett O’Brien, Vice-Chair of the Carver County GOP. “There wasn’t a way for me to necessarily configure it.”

But, a poster for the event shows the auction was intentional.

2011-08-24-carver-cty-gop_1227.jpg
2011-08-24-carver-cty-gop_1227.jpg

The auction website has since been taken down. The event is scheduled for Sept. 1.

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