Andrew, Frey lead campaign donations

City government candidates reported the year’s donations and expenses.

Andrew, Frey lead campaign donations

Alexi Gusso

Minneapolis mayoral and City Council candidates released campaign finance reports Tuesday — the first of only two required disclosures preceding the election.

The Hennepin County Elections Division required candidates to submit expenditures and contributions spanning from the beginning of the year to late August.

In the Democratic-Farmer-Labor-dominated mayoral race, former Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Andrew reported the highest contributions with just more than $272,000.

He spent just more than $203,000 and has about $69,000 left on hand.

Trailing Andrew in donations was current City Councilwoman Betsy Hodges, who raised just less than $189,000. She has spent more than $170,000 and now has about $51,000 left.

Hodges contributed a personal loan of $21,500 and has received more than $2,000 from University of Minnesota employees.

City Councilman Don Samuels raised nearly $102,000 and currently has about $56,000 on hand.

Independent candidate Cam Winton has currently has about $34,000 on hand of $72,800 raised.

Former City Council President Dan Cohen currently has the most cash on hand with more than $109,000 because of a generous personal loan of $285,000.

Third Ward

Donors can contribute a maximum of $500 for mayoral candidates and $300 for city council candidates.

In the University-adjacent ward, City Council incumbent Diane Hofstede has reported nearly $30,000 in contributions and has used $10,000 of personal funds.

Hofstede has spent about $42,000 and has less than $44,000 on hand.

Hofstede’s challenger, attorney Jacob Frey, has raised more than twice as much. Frey has spent more than $38,000 and currently has about $44,500 on hand, with a personal loan of $10,000.

Both Hofstede and Frey have accepted donations from unions and city businesses, including $300 donations each from prolific area developer Kelly Doran.

Doran, who currently has six luxury apartment complexes open or under construction in the University District, is proposing a new six-story complex in Dinkytown that could displace businesses such as Mesa Pizza, among others.

‘Slipping behind’

Ward 2 City Councilman Cam Gordon, who represents University neighborhoods Southeast Como, Prospect Park, and Cedar-Riverside and chairs the city’s elections committee, said Minnesota would benefit from more frequent reports.

“I think there was a time when Minnesota was more progressive in terms of campaign finance reforms,” Gordon said. “But clearly I think we’re slipping behind other states in this area.”

Gordon said he’s advocated for an increase in campaign finance reports in the past but was blocked by a state statute prohibiting large cities from setting rules different from outstate Minnesota. 

He said he hopes to bring the issue to the state Legislature in the upcoming session this February.

Andrew is also critical of the state’s current system. In an email statement, Andrew said financial disclosure is “absolutely vital” to maintaining public trust.

“I think the public interest is not served by extended periods with no financial disclosure,” he said.  

Candidates will release final financial reports a week before the Nov. 5 election.