Blast from the past: Julie Blaha’s spokesman Donald McFarland

A long-time Democratic operative finds his name back in the news.

Earlier today, Alpha News broke the story of an apparent coverup involving a couple of Minnesota Democratic politicians and an August traffic accident. The driver in said incident was State Auditor Julie Blaha.

Among the persons quoted in the Alpha News story is Blaha’s communications director, Donald McFarland.

McFarland has a long history in state politics, and not always on the state payroll. Back in 2008, he was representing the powerful Democratic political action committee Alliance for a Better Minnesota.

The Alliance at the time was pushing a dubious story against then-Sen. Norm Coleman during the infamous Coleman-Franken recount after the 2008 election. Long after the recount ended, and after years of investigations and dozens of lurid, fact-free headlines, Coleman was cleared of any wrongdoing in the matter raised by the Alliance.

It turns out McFarland has his own tangential ties to another amazing news story, one with international implications.

From 2005 to last August, McFarland ran his own public relations firm, McFarland & Co., according to his LinkedIn profile. During that era, one of his clients was an Indonesian-born Minnesota businessman named Johannes Marliem.

Marliem, on the left, first came to fame when it was reported that he was Minnesota’s largest individual donor to the second Obama inauguration in 2013, donating $225,000 to the celebration. Marliem also gained attention around that time for donations to St. Paul’s Como Zoo and their efforts to conserve the orangutan from Marliem’s home nation.

Unfortunately, it did not end well for Marliem. The international businessman and frequent Democrat campaign donor died by his own hand during an August 2017 confrontation with the SWAT team of the Los Angeles police department.

That day, Marliem had met with the FBI and was implicated in a massive fraud back in Indonesia involving that nation’s national identity card program. The case would eventually result in the powerful Speaker of the Indonesian parliament, Setya Novanto, being sent to prison.

After Marliem’s death, federal officials seized numerous assets in Minnesota connected to the Indonesian fraud, including a Lake Minnetonka mansion and several luxury cars.

Most famous among Marliem’s possessions was a $2.6 million Bugatti sports car, dubbed Bleugatti, whose own Instagram account at its peak had more than 100,000 followers.

To this day, none of the more than $500,000 in campaign contributions made by Marliem have been returned to the victims of his international fraud, the taxpayers of Indonesia.