Why Is The MN GOP So Messed Up? Sutton Running Buddy Ben Golnik is Part of the Answer
Lost in all the hubbub of the slow-motion trainwreck that is the Republican Party of Minnesota has been any evidence that anyone in charge is at all interested in getting to the root of its longstanding problems, and not just with money. Instead, the scandals are buried, the whistleblowers attacked, and the people who were in charge when the problems were created are allowed to go on doing what they’d been doing without any major hitches in their giddy-up.
Case in point: Way back in 2006, Dwight Tostenson, a staunch Republican and the RPM’s finance director at the time as well as its chief fundraiser, had tried to get then-party-chair Ron Carey to clean up the Minnesota GOP’s stinking messes — messes which included using for Party expenses the money intended for timely depositing into retirement accounts, understating debts (“$100,000 plus”) on reports to the FEC and to Minnesota’s state campaign finance agency, delayed payment of staff expense reports and commissions, and failure to make timely payments to vendors. (Gee, sounds familiar, doesn’t it?)
Tostenson’s reward from the Party’s leadership? Per the memo he wrote them shortly after his “termination” as finance director in February 2007, a hard kick in the teeth:
I have been told that over the last few months that RPM legal counsel is working on a response to the issues brought to the Chairman’s attention. However, I was told not to contact Party Counsel regarding these issues. In a meeting with the Chairman and the Executive Director, Ben Golnik on Tuesday, November 28, just two weeks after I sent RPM Counsel the documentation, the Chairman informed me that my compensation package would no longer include commissions for major donors or a net dollar performance bonus structure for 2007. He informed me my total compensation pacakge would be reduced to a $75,000 per year salary with no bonuses or commissions. This is an amount less than I have earned in any year in the last decade. Using 2006 numbers it would be a decrease in compensation of about 40%.
The underlining is in the memo itself, as reproduced on the website of CREW, which used the memo as evidence in its 2007 FEC complaint against the Republican Party of Minnesota. (See also the graphic above.)
Ben Golnik, by the way, is a longtime buddy of Tony Sutton. Sutton created the “Count Them All Properly” 2010 slush fund for the recount that Golnik managed — an oversight-free fund created without the input, wishes, or control of Tom Emmer, the person whose gubernatorial campaign it allegedly was intended to benefit (and did I mention that Golnik is a longtime Emmer foe?) — and is currently an adviser with the campaign of freshman state senator Mike Parry, who is battling the major-league TheoCon creepazoid Allen Quist for the right to lose big to Tim Walz ten months from now. (Yes, folks, that’s the same political campaign another Sutton buddy, Michael Brodkorb, was on until very recently.)
The Golnik name recurs often in Republican politics, and not just in Minnesota. Turns out that Ben has an equally skeevy brother, Jon, who has been trying for the past three years to pry the MA-01 congressional seat away from Niki Tsongas in Massachusetts. (If you want some light entertainment, Google “golnik espionage” sometime; you’ll find things like this.) During the Republican primary in 2010, Jon Golnik had to face a resurfaced scandal concerning his marijuana and drunk-driving bust after a 2001 AC/DC concert; the scandal didn’t stop him from winning the primary, but he still lost to Tsongas in the general election. (Personally, I think the real scandal is that anyone still found AC/DC a worthwhile band after Bon Scott died. But I digress.)
So does anyone really think the selection of Pat Shortridge to replace Golnik’s bud Sutton as the new RPM Chair will mean a new blast of fresh, cleansing air through the stale smoke-filled snakepits of the Minnesota GOP? Or is it a means to avoid actually cleaning up messes by working to shove them out of sight? Consider that one of Shortridge’s nicknames is “The Fixer“, and I don’t think that’s meant to signify any skill with power tools, aside, perhaps, from the ones who work for ALEC.