Minnesota For Sale: Delta is ready when you are (TM)

Picking up where we left off in Part 4 of our Minnesota For Sale series on campaign finance, we dig up more names and money in the shadowy world of Democratic dark money.

In Part 6, we cataloged the dark money contributions of the Soros family (Democracy PAC II).

In Part 8, we covered the dark money contributions of the Rockefeller family (Toolbox).

Now in Part 10, we dig another layer deeper into the world of dark money in state politics. Of the $97 million or so it took to buy Minnesota in 2022, we classify a little over $20 million as dark money: nonprofits and PACs where the original source of money is not obvious at first (or even second) glance. The table below is arranged alphabetically.

The Alliance for a Better Minnesota (ABM) is the Democrats’ main campaign finance vehicle in Minnesota. They have a nonprofit, 501c4 arm that can accept anonymous donations. The sole source of the nonprofit’s cash is a related nonprofit, called WIN Minnesota (501c4). It’s like chasing your tail.

Digging into WIN Minnesota, it turns out that some of the cash came from Rockefeller-oil-heiress Alida Messinger. The rest can be traced back to another dark money outlet, State Victory Action, of North Carolina.

We do know where some of State Victory’s money comes from. $500,000 came from the National Education Association (NEA), a nationwide teachers union. Another $200,000 came from a group of carpenters unions.

Bigger dollars yet came from a cluster of dark money outlets aimed at electing Democrats to specific offices. The biggest chunk of change came from the Democratic Governors Assocation (DGA). We traced $200,000 of that money back to another carpenters union.

The Democratic Attorney Generals Association (DAGA), spent millions more through various entities in Minnesota. The Communication Workers of America union tossed in $100,000.

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, another casino-owning tribe in Minnesota, gave $75,000 to DAGA. The Band donated an additional $131,000 to their political fund, Mah Mah Wi No Min. All but a token amount of that money went to Democratic candidates and causes.

The Democratic Association of Secretaries of State (DASS) also spent $millions re-electing Steve Simon to the post last year.

At the legislative level, the Democrats field the DLCC. Donors to this group include some household names.

Another national teachers union, the American Federation of Teachers, gave $68,000 to the DLCC.

Delta Airlines was good for $5,000. NextEra Energy, a renewable energy company, contributed $10,000. The steel company NUCOR contributed just under $10,000.

The shopping-center-heiress Deborah Simon of Carmel, IN, gave $43,800 to the DLCC. The company her father built owns properties across the United States, including Edina’s Southdale Center mall. In 2021, she also gave $150,000 to the DGA group.

Like ABM, the Soros-backed Faith in Minnesota is part of a sprawling group of intertwined nonprofits. Their 501c4 unit received $200,000 from something called the democracyFirst PAC.

The principal donor to this outfit is Lynn Schusterman of Tulsa, OK, a billionaire philanthropist. Her late husband, Charlie, made a fortune in the oil and gas industry.

Her name pops up again as a donor to The PAC for America’s Future, along with another child of Berkshire-Hathaway’s Charlie Munger.

Schusterman also gave contributions under her own name to Democratic candidates Steve Simon and Tim Walz last year.

Charlie and Lynn’s daughter, the heiress Stacy Schusterman of Tulsa, gave $234,000 to the DGA victory fund and also gave individual contributions to both Simon and Walz last year.

The Bridge to Democracy Super PAC was launched with much fanfare last year, targeting Trump supporters in 12 states, including Minnesota. In the end, their money was used (through Forward Majority) to oppose some Republicans who were, in fact, not Trump supporters, but merely running in competitive legislative districts. So much for principle.

Like ABM and Faith in Minnesota, TakeAction MN owns an array of linked nonprofits. Their 501c4 subsidiary is financed almost exclusively by the national SEIU labor union.

Digging into dark money is like peeling an onion: there is always another layer, and it makes you cry.

Part 11 of this series goes to Silicon Valley.