1.) Legislative auditor Jim Nobles is the latest figure to take an interest in MNsure’s botched launch, telling Minnesota Public Radio that he plans to investigate the new state agency’s management of its contracts with several technology vendors. Nobles said his curiosity was spurred partly by a letter from Gov. Mark Dayton to IBM, which faulted the tech giant for failing to adequately deliver on about $4 million in software purchased by the state. Nobles said he was interested in the performance of the state’s vendor companies, and of MNsure itself, in its apparently delinquent approach to managing those contract deals. He also hinted that the OLA investigation could expand to other areas after auditors gain access to MNsure information. “Once we are in there, we may see a lot of other issues we may pursue,” Nobles said. Dayton, for his part, said he supports Nobles’ instincts to examine the contracts, and called an audit “highly appropriate.”
2.) Tom Emmer announced this morning that his 6th Congressional District campaign collected another $200,000 in donations during the fourth quarter of 2012, bringing his total haul for the year to $500,000. Emmer did not release details on the number of donors or their locations relative to that district or the state of Minnesota. The former gubernatorial candidate has consistently outpaced his fellow GOP candidates in his ability to collect donations. Emmer’s advantage led both Phil Krinkie and Rhonda Sivarajah to loan their campaigns six-figures’ worth of personal money before the third-quarter fundraising deadline.
3.) The Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board will meet this morning to approve its official recommendations for the 2014 legislative session. Those recommendations are likely to include provisions that would expand the definition of “express advocacy,” which currently only includes campaign literature that explicitly instructs a reader to vote for or against a candidate. Under the suggested expansion, the phrase would include any messaging that could reasonably be interpreted to be in support or opposition of a candidate or party. Another proposal expected to be put forth would require disclosure on electioneering communications from third-party groups. Later, the board will meet in a closed-door executive session to discuss the recent $100,000 fine against the Senate DFL caucus, which was found to have practiced illegal coordination with an outside spending group in 2012; executive director Gary Goldsmith declined to tell the Associated Press yesterday whether the case had been reopened.
COMINGS & GOINGS
- Former legislator Karla Bigham announced that she will run for the Washington County Board of Commissioners. Bigham plans to challenge incumbent commission member Autum Lehrke who, like Bigham, hails from Cottage Grove. Bigham, a Democrat, served two terms in the House, beginning with her election in 2006.
- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will be the headline speaker at the Republican Party of Minnesota’s annual Lincoln-Reagan fundraising dinner. The event is scheduled for Feb. 19, and will also feature an appearance from Michael Reagan, the adopted son of Ronald Reagan. Further event details, including ticket prices and location, will be released soon.
- The Minnesota Council on Foundations has hired Alfonso Wenker as its director of diversity. Wenker has an extensive background in the nonprofit world, and worked as a deputy finance director for the pro-gay marriage Minnesotans United for All Families group. Wenker was most recently with the Bush Foundation, where he was in charge of that organization’s fellowship program.
- Former seven-term House member Nora Slawik was sworn in as the new mayor of Maplewood yesterday. The suburban DFLer won election to that office in November, ousting former mayor Diana Longrie with a nearly two-to-one margin of victory.
- Winthrop & Weinstine has a temporary opening on its government relations team. The lobbying firm is hiring for a legislative specialist to join its lobbying efforts for a position that would run from February to June. The staffer would help track legislative action in committee hearings and floor sessions, and would communicate developments to the rest of the team, as well as updating the firm’s website with Capitol news. Apply by sending a resume to Sandy Ricci at [email protected]; application deadline Jan. 22.