Keith Ellison concluded his election night victory speech by vowing to hire anyone of any political affiliation so long as they “serve the public’s interest,” but 15 of his transition committee members are Democratic donors.
Another three members of the 35-person board are sitting Democratic state representatives or senators, including Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn (D-Roseville), Sen. Bobby Joe Champion (D-Minneapolis), and Sen. Foung Hawj (D-St. Paul).
Of the 15 members with a history of political donations, all donated to Democrats; none of the transition committee’s members have donated to a Republican, according to campaign finance data available through the Center for Responsive politics. Committee co-chair Richard Allyn has donated upwards of $15,000 to Democratic causes and candidates between now and 1998.
Committee member and Ramsey County Attorney John Choi has donated $2,800 to various Democratic candidates, including Gov. Mark Dayton (D-MN). Attorney Carla Kjlellberg, meanwhile, has donated more than $4,500 to various Democrats, including Ellison.
The biggest donor on Ellison’s committee is Lee Sheehy, former Minnesota chief deputy attorney general and former chief of staff for Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who has donated $37,450 to Democrats.
Other donors on the committee include:
- Luchelle Stevens: $4,000
- Matt Pelikan: $2,950
- Gail M. Olson: $2,193
- Carly Melin: $1,750
- Denise Specht: $1,450
- Lori Bergland-Olson: $500
- David McKinney: $250
- Ted Winter: $150
- Beverly Jones Heydinger: $100
- Emma Greenman: $88
- Phil Duran: $64
After his election, Ellison published a thank-you letter in The Star Tribune to express his gratitude for his supporters, but reiterated claims that he wouldn’t make hiring decisions based on political affiliations.
“During the campaign, I said that the only condition anyone will have to meet to work in my office is being committed to the public interest of the people of Minnesota,” Ellison wrote. “That’s why I promised last month that my first legislative priority is to pass civil service protections so that staff in the office of the attorney general cannot be fired on the basis of political affiliation.”
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