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Tim Pawlenty’s PAC Hires Key Figure From U.S. Attorney Firing Scandal

The Minnesota governor’s PAC is rolling out today with a media blitz reflecting the talent of his staff (such as former Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant) and the credibility he’s built up in the political press corps. Tim Pawlenty’s Freedom First PAC is co-chaired by William Strong of Morgan Stanley and former Rep. Vin Weber (R-Minn.), whom 2008 campaign veterans remember as a key, quotable ally of Mitt Romney.

One of the hires that surprised me: Sara Taylor, the former Director of the Office of Political Affairs for President George W. Bush. Taylor was a key figure in the 2007 controversy over the firing of U.S. attorneys who declined to press 11th hour cases of “voter fraud” before the midterms. She may be best remembered for her revealing comment during hearings on the issue that she “taking that oath [of office] means that I need to respect, and do respect, my service to the president.” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) reminded her that her oath was to the Constitution, not the president.

Video after the jump, as well as the text of the Pawlenty press release.

**Tim Pawlenty Announces “Freedom First” PAC **

PAC’s Leadership Team Includes Experienced, Respected, Diverse Talent

ST. PAUL, Minnesota – Seeking to help elect conservatives in 2009 and 2010, Tim Pawlenty today filed forms with the Federal Election Commission to create the Freedom First political action committee. The new federal PAC will offer financial support to candidates committed to putting freedom before government, and provide organizational support for Pawlenty to promote his innovative, conservative message. The new PAC will have an unprecedented approach to citizen engagement, and features a website at www.TimPawlenty.com, where supporters can add their voice to Pawlenty’s message.

“Right now, our freedoms are being challenged on many fronts,” Pawlenty said. “This organization is dedicated to putting freedom first again in America. By helping candidates and translating our ideas into policies that everyone can relate to and support, we can turn back the growth of Washington and renew the promise of freedom.”

Freedom First PAC will be co-chaired by William H. Strong, the Vice Chairman of Morgan Stanley, and the Honorable Vin Weber, former Minnesota congressman, and partner at Clark and Weinstock.

“Tim is an authentic leader with a record of results,” Strong said. “I’m excited to work with him to elect great candidates across the country. His record of fiscal conservatism in Minnesota makes him a credible voice on the issues facing our country.”

“There’s a big debate about the role of government and personal freedom raging at the moment, and I’m excited to help promote fresh new ideas, and new leaders.” Weber said. “Given Tim’s successful record in Minnesota, he’s in a unique position to harness that energy and help other candidates.”

The PAC’s first Minnesota fundraiser will be held on November 4 in Minneapolis and will be anchored by a diverse and distinguished group of Minnesotans who will serve as the Freedom First PAC Minnesota Co-Chairs. They include:

  • Al & Cathy Annexstad, Shorewood, Minnesota
  • Bill Cooper, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, TCF Financial Corporation, and former Chairman of Republican Party of Minnesota.
  • Mark Davis, Chairman, Cambria
  • Megan Doyle, Founder, Hope for the City
  • Jeff Larson, Former CEO, 2008 MSP Host Committee and Partner, FLS Connect.
  • Susan Marvin, President, Marvin Windows
  • Tim Owens, CEO, Voyager Bank
  • Tom Stauber, President & owner, Edwards Sales
  • Bob Ulrich, Former CEO, Target

Providing management, strategic and political planning will be a cadre of campaign veterans serving as senior advisors, including Phil Musser, President of New Frontier Strategy and former executive director of the Republican Governors Association; Terry Nelson, Partner, Mercury Public Affairs and former RNC and Bush-Cheney 2004 political director; and Sara Taylor, President of BlueFront Strategies and former White House political director. Former FEC Chairman Michael Toner of Bryan Cave, LLP will serve as the PAC’s counsel.

The PAC’s communication director will be Alex Conant. A Minnesota native, Conant most recently served as the Republican National Committee’s national press secretary and senior advisor. Online strategy and outreach will be led by Patrick Ruffini and Mindy Finn of Engage. Ruffini previously headed the RNC’s online department as well as working with the Giuliani Presidential campaign and Finn oversaw Mitt Romney’s online strategy during his 2008 presidential campaign. Liz Mair and Patrick Hynes of Hynes Communications will handle online communications outreach. Hynes served as blog outreach consultant for John McCain’s 2008 Presidential campaign, and Mair served as the RNC’s online communications director during 2008.

The Minnesota Finance Director will be Trisha Hamm, who was previously the political director for Pawlenty’s gubernatorial campaign. Annie Kelly, who formerly served as the deputy campaign manager for Pawlenty’s campaign in 2006, will be responsible for PAC operations, and Don Stiles will serve as Treasurer.

*You can follow TWI on Twitter and Facebook. *

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