The inauguration committee for DFL Governor Tim Walz is asking for contributions of up to $100,000 in light of the upcoming Democratic takeover of the legislature, which will be celebrated in January.
Perks for contributors include advertising at the event, admission to a “pre-inaugural reception,” and souvenir pictures with the governor, according to a leaflet originally revealed by PR guy Blois Olson. Friends give $5,000, advocates give $25,000, champions give $50,000, and premier donors give $100,000.
Inauguration committees for governors typically take in hundreds of thousands of dollars from groups with political interests at state Capitols.
Four years earlier, Walz’s inaugural committee raked in $690,000 in contributions from labor unions, companies, lobbying organizations, and tribes, according to federal tax records. That is much more than the combined totals of Democratic Governor Mark Dayton ($195,000) and Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty ($370,000) in 2003.
While the majority of the funds Walz obtained for his “One Minnesota Inaugural Committee” were used to host festivities commemorating his reelection, around $170,000 was transferred to a progressive nonprofit political organization.
Despite the leaflet offering contributors admission to a “pre-inaugural reception,” a spokesman claimed all inauguration festivities would be free and donors will not have special access to the governor.
Historically, private donations have covered the cost of the event rather than government funding. We’re appreciative for donations at any level that helps make this event happen,” Walz spokesperson Claire Lancaster stated in a statement.
Lancaster said that the list of contributors was unavailable at this time but will be made public in future tax filings.
Inaugural committees, in contrast to political campaigns, are not limited in terms of who may contribute or how much they can give. The impact of money in politics has been questioned as a result.
Walz’s progressive backers, who often ask for more taxes and more severe consumer and environmental controls of such firms, would likely also be surprised by the magnitude of the money they’ve received from corporations.
At $100,000, Walz is asking for twice as much as he received from major contributors during his first election.
Public employees’ union AFSCME Council 5, construction workers’ union Laborers District Council, South Dakota biofuels business POET LLC, and Minnesota education software company Infinite Campus each contributed $50,000, according to their 2018 and 2019 tax forms. Minnesota’s teachers’ union, Education Minnesota, donated $40,000.
The Minnesota Association of Realtors, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, UnitedHealth Group, and the Prairie Island Tribal Council all provided $25,000.
According to the tax returns, around $530,000 of the funds collected were used on inauguration-related venues, caterers, and other costs. Inaugural co-chair Kristen McMullen told MPR News at the time that the funds were necessary for holding events that were accessible to people with disabilities in many places around the state.
Still, Walz’s inauguration committee had a substantial surplus that it kept onto until 2021 when it donated $170,000 to Leadership Matters MN, a progressive non-profit political organization that had advocated for Walz’s reelection.