Posted: 05/22/15 09:26
by Dave Mindeman
I got a message recently, from a local DFL activist, upset about this discovery while searching OpenSecrets.....
Here is a Congressional District 2 candidate who had given money to Mitt Romney during his first Presidential run. I have to admit that it puzzled me as well. So, I had to do some digging.
I did try to contact the Lawrence campaign as I thought there might be a very simple explanation. I left a message - got a brief e-mail from the campaign manager, told them what I was asking about, and then got no response.
So, I went back to digging.
Now Jim and Mary Lawrence have been very, very generous to Democratic candidates. They have been particularly generous in supporting Senate candidates - its a long list. Klobuchar, Franken, Heitkamp, Kaine, McCaskill, Warner...(and not just token contributions, it is often the Federal individual maximum of $2500) they even gave $10,000 contributions to Democratic State Parties in Minnesota, Missouri, Virginia.
But in the middle of all that Democratic money, there sits these contributions to Mitt Romney from both of them. (Along with some small donations to Norm Coleman and Jim Ramstad that go way back - supporting "centrist, establishment Republicans". I thought, there must be more to it than that.
A little more digging.
So as I looked at the timelines and the biographies, I found a connection that may make some sense - (although it would be nice to get it directly from the candidate). But it looks like James Lawrence at one time worked for Bain. Which, I assume, would mean an individual relationship with Mitt Romney in a working context. Maybe they were friends. Maybe they even argued politics. But giving a donation to someone you know is logical, even if they are from the other party....and even if that person is running for President against a Democrat you support (there are Obama contributions).
So, to me that seems to explain this a bit - and is worthy of acceptance.
As I researched, I found a few other interesting things. It seems that James had been courted by the DCCC to run against Erik Paulsen in the third district for 2014. Minnpost did an article. They even did some of that issue polling....you know, the stuff where they test issues against the incumbent, without naming any names. It would seem that nothing really came of it....or Mr. Lawrence decided against the possibility.
Another curious thing, in the Open Secrets list, is something called Politics Reimagined.
This looks like an individual project that James Lawrence started as a means of breaking through the gridlock. (Both James and Mary seem to focus on Congressional gridlock as a core issue for them.) Politics Reimagined was a SuperPac meant to work in the 2014 election cycle dealing with this goal....
Our goal is to formulate a centrist, bipartisan platform that addresses issues important for all Americans. With your support, we can encourage collaboration over contestation among candidates we support in order to make these goals realized and implemented.
The idea was to help elect "reasonable" people in either party who were committed to working across the aisle. It was clear that both Republicans and Democrats who met the criteria would be helped.
Lawrence initially funded this with $50,000 of his own money.
But as far as I can tell, it never went any further. There are few donations over that initial $50,000 and the project now seems to be abandoned. (Although the website is still here ) The PAC only spent a little over $30,000 during the 2014 cycle.
So, that is what I could glean from what initially seemed like an odd Republican contribution from a Democratic Congressional candidate.
I have been a little concerned, that outside of an announcement at the Congressional District 2 Central Committee, there hasn't been much visibility for Mary Lawrence. Outside of some press releases on Veterans Issues and one on Student Debt, we don't know much about her positions. I know it is early and I guess that shouldn't be a cause for concern - but given this centrist leaning, it raises a question in my mind as to whether or not she will abide by the endorsement.
If the campaign is listening, maybe we could talk?