Money

Updated 3:50 p.m. Thursday

The race to represent Shakopee and the adjacent Jackson and Louisville Townships in the state House has not been cheap.

Outside conservative political action committees have poured in money in an effort to keep the district red after newcomer Republican Erik Mortensen defeated incumbent Rep. Bob Loonan in the primary. Mortensen is running against DFL-endorsed former Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke.

Outside conservative groups have donated more than $120,000 to support Mortensen through PACs, campaign finance records show.

Major conservative donor Bob Cummins of Deephaven and his wife, Joan Cummins, each donated $1,000 to Mortensen. Action 4 Liberty, a conservative PAC largely financed by the Cummins family, also donated $1,000 to the Mortensen campaign, records show, as did Freedom Club State PAC, also largely financed by the Cummins family.

Freedom Club State PAC has spent $119,544 supporting Mortensen through independent expenditures, including TV, radio, direct mail, digital advertising and door knockers, according to campaign finance disclosures. That's more than twice what the PAC spent on any other state legislature race. 

As an individual candidate, Mortensen raised $35,293 through Oct. 22, and spent $27,294, according to the Campaign Finance Board. He had $7,704 in cash on hand as of Oct. 22, and unpaid bills and loans in the amount of $5,600.

Mortensen received $23,176 from individual contributors; $2,000 from PACs; and $9,867 from Republican groups, including $6,300 from the Scott County GOP.

Mortensen chose not to participate in the state public finance subsidy program, which gives a partial grant to candidates who agree to spending limits. Contributors to publicly funded candidates are eligible to have up to $50 of their political donation refunded by the state. The program is funded by a state income tax check-off. Candidates are eligible to receive the money once they raise a certain amount of money. 
 
Jeff Sigurdson, executive director of the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, said most statewide candidates participate in the program, but a few opt out every year. 

Tabke raised $39,641 through Oct. 22 and spent $29,890. As of Oct. 22, he had $8,670 cash on hand. Tabke raised $22,738 from individual donors; $6,600 from PACs; $5,647 from Democratic party groups; and received $4,002 in public subsidies.

Tabke’s PAC donors are mostly labor unions, records show; he also received $500 from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

His largest contributions came from the 55th Senate District DFL, which pitched in $1,900 and $1,898 from the campaign of Mary Hernandez, the former 55A DFL candidate who dropped out for personal reasons over the summer.

Local Shakopee races

While candidates for local Shakopee offices haven't spent nearly as much as state office contenders, several candidates have spent thousands of dollars.

According to Minnesota law, candidates for municipal government and school board positions must file a campaign finance report if they receive contributions or make disbursements over $750 in a calendar year. Campaign donations exceeding $100 need to be itemized on the report, and donations must not exceed $600 in an election year.

Here's a breakdown of spending in those races: 

Shakopee mayor

Incumbent Mayor Bill Mars spent $6,308 between July 31 and Oct. 24, while receiving a total of $3,395 in individual contributions. Additionally, Mars contributed $3,250 of his own money to his campaign, according to his report.

Mayoral contender and Scott County GOP Chairman Joseph Ditto spent $8,072 between July 23 and Oct. 25; including $1,000 Ditto reimbursed himself after giving his campaign a $2,000 personal loan in July. Ditto received $9,185 in individual contributions during the campaign.

City Councilor Mike Luce spent $60 between August and Oct. 29. He had not received any contributions, according to his report.

Contender Jeffrey Thom spent $1,580 between Sept. 10 and Oct. 24 and had not received any contributions, according to his report.

Candidate William Strunk did not submit a report.

Shakopee City Council

Of the nine city council candidates, two of them submitted campaign finance reports.

Planning Commissioner Jody Brennan spent $1,606 between August and Oct. 22. She contributed $500 to her own campaign and received $400 in contributions, including a $250 donation from Mayor Bill Mars and his wife, Corky Mars.

Council candidate Angelica Contreras spent $1,385 between May and Oct. 26. Contreras received $1,647 in contributions for her campaign.

Candidate Matt Harden did not submit a report for his campaign, but Harden received a $600 contribution in September from the Scott County GOP, according to the Scott County GOP’s finance report.

Shakopee School Board

Of the 10 total school board candidates, three submitted finance reports.

Candidate Paul Christiansen spent $877 between Aug. 15 and Oct. 25. He contributed $318 of his own money and received a $600 contribution from the Scott County GOP.

Candidate Kristi Peterson spent $1,370 between Aug. 18 and Oct. 24. She did not report any contributions during the same time period.

Candidate Ivan Pandiyan spent $2,504 between Aug. 21 and Aug. 29. He did not receive any contributions to his campaign between January and August, according to his report.

Reporter and Lifestyle Guide Coordinator

Amanda McKnight has been a Southwest News Media reporter for four years. Amanda is passionate about accountability journalism and describes herself as spunky and assertive. She enjoys running, knitting, exploring nature and going on adventures with her hu

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