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home : community : community Friday, May 24, 2019

6/5/2017 4:21:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Dai Thao Campaign Under Investigation

By Amy Doeun

Tom Lyden of Fox9 asking Dai Thao about allegations.
St. Paul City Council Member Dai Thao asks a question at a council meeting in April.
MPR reported recently that "that the election campaign of a St. Paul City Council member may have solicited an improper campaign contribution from a lobbyist" and is currently under investigation by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). The investigation was referred to the BCA by the St. Paul Police.

Dai Thai was elected during a special election in 2013 and reelected for Ward 1 in 2015. He is currently campaigning for the DFL endorsement for St. Paul Mayor. The DFL city convention will be June 17th. Three other candidates have thrown their hat into the ring - Melvin Carter and Pat Harris (both were City Council Members) and former school board member Tom Goldstein.

It all started back in February at an unnamed coffee shop. An unnamed lobbyist has accused Thao of requesting funds in exchange for action. According to MPR, "The lobbyist said Thao listened during the meeting, and then told the lobbyist and the lobbyist's clients that Thao needed what he called 'resources to spread his message.' The lobbyist offered some additional information about the issue. 'I don't think anyone in that conversation thought he wanted information,' the lobbyist said. 'We talked about it afterward and we all felt that he had asked for money.'"

The lobbyist said that the meeting was not a campaign meeting, and went on to say that they did not intend for the information about the meeting to get out. Rather they had consulted a third party about the best way to handle the situation and that third party is the one who broke the story to the press. Fox 9 news was the first to report it.

After the initial meeting with Thao, Thao's campaign manager, Angela Marlow, "sent a message asking outright for a donation for his mayoral campaign and offering to 'rethink this issue.'"

The lobbyist continued to comment, "I was shocked to receive that first message. So I thanked her for reaching out and said that I would have to check on some campaign finance laws, given the fact that he's currently on the council," the lobbyist said. "I got back to her later on with the Minnesota statute on bribery... to ask someone for money for rethinking your vote is very clear cut to me."

Thao for his part is not even sure when this event took place. "Thao also said he believed the incident involved proposed cigar and flavored tobacco bans he supported, which was not the subject of the meeting the lobbyist described."

He also denies any wrongdoing, and called the allegations an attack on his campaign. "The quid pro quo is absolutely false, and you'll have more of that when we have all the facts in the next coming days," Thao said.

Thao told Hmong Times, "I don't have anything to add at this time. We are cooperating with the BCA's investigation. I will let you know more when they are available."

Marlow is no longer with the campaign. Some information provided by MPR.

St. Paul, MN



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