Campaign records suggest Chamber of Commerce helped finance failed attempt to take out conservative lawmakers

"I am thankful the people in my district were able to see through these attacks."

Left: Erik Mortensen from Mortensen for House Facebook page. Right: Jeremy Munson from Minnesota House.

A super PAC affiliated with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce contributed $12,000 to a group that conducted a smear campaign of two conservative lawmakers before their primary elections.

Earlier this month, the Minnesota Jobs Coalition Legislative Fund, the independent expenditure committee of the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, accused state Rep. Jeremy Munson, R-Lake Crystal, of working with “anti-police Democrats” and supporting “efforts to defund the police.”

The group labeled conservative Erik Mortensen a “never Trumper” who “sides with liberals instead of Republicans” in similar mailers.

The Jobs Coalition was founded by a former staffer for House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, who saw four lawmakers split from his leadership in 2018 and form the New House Republican Caucus.

Among those lawmakers was Munson, who introduced a bill in March to prohibit legislators from working for “businesses whose primary activities involve lobbying” after Daudt accepted a position with Stateside Associates, a Virginia-based lobbying firm.

“These attacks are not only meant to smear me, but also send all legislators a message about staying in line and keeping quiet. I will not be intimidated. I did not run to be a career politician, so these types of threats do not work on me. Make no mistake, I will not back down,” Munson said at the time.

According to pre-primary reports filed with the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board, the Chamber of Commerce transferred $35,800 on Aug. 5 to the Pro Jobs Majority PAC, its independent expenditure committee. That same day, the Pro Jobs Majority PAC funneled $12,000 to the Minnesota Jobs Coalition Legislative Fund.

Alpha News reached out to the Chamber of Commerce for comment on the matter, but a spokesperson said the organization doesn’t “comment further on campaign activities, just as other groups do not.”

Despite the attacks, Mortensen won his primary earlier this month by 10 percentage points while Munson defeated his challenger by nearly 60 points.

“The lobbyists for the chamber represent the interests of several large health care groups. I am thankful the people in my district were able to see through these attacks. While I support businesses of all sizes in Minnesota and I support capitalism, I do not support crony-capitalism, where large corporations push for protection legislation, even fees and regulations on their own industry, to box out their competition,” Munson said in a statement.

He said the attacks could be due to his Patient Right to Shop Act, which would empower patients with “full price transparency and the right to shop for care.”

“When we have legislation that uses the principles of free markets and patient choice, and has worked in other states to reduce the cost of health care, we need to stand up for the people of Minnesota and not cower before lobbyists and special interest groups,” he said. “I am proud to be endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, which represents our main street businesses and advocates for a level playing field, not handouts, carve outs, or protectionist legislation.”