A Minnesota House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC) field staff member who misrepresented himself as a Hill City Democrat in a letter to the editor in Wednesday’s Brainerd Dispatch is no longer employed by the committee.
Stephen Sundquist, a field staff employee who door-knocked and did literature drops for Dale Lueck’s House 10B campaign ceased working for the committee Thursday and is not affiliated with any House Republican campaigns, Jodi Boyne, director of public affairs for the House Republican Caucus, said. Boyne was speaking on behalf of the HRCC.
Phone messages were left for Sundquist at two locations but he could not be reached for comment Thursday.
House 10B includes Aitkin County and eastern Crow Wing County.
Sundquist’s letter to the editor was published in both the Dispatch and the Aitkin Independent Age. In the letter he inferred he voted for DFL candidate Joe Radinovich of Crosby but was dismayed by the Democrat’s public statements and intended to write-in the name of former Aitkin County DFL Chair David Strand.
“I’m pretty well known over here,” Strand said Thursday. After initially thinking the letter was humorous, he became curious as to who the letter writer was and concerned that in a close race even a few votes for him could hurt Radinovich.
“All the people who read this letter have been badly misinformed and misled by this person,” Strand said.
This morning Minnesota DFL Party Chair Ken Martin filed a complaint charging a violation of the Fair Campaign Practices Act with the Office of Administrative Hearings, citing a Minnesota statute dealing with false letters to the editor.
The DFL news release cited campaign finance reports that indicated Sundquist has been employed by the HRCC since May of 2012.
“The letter was clearly an attempt to benefit Dale Lueck’s campaign, and this kind of unethical campaign behavior is unacceptable in Minnesota,” Martin said in a statement.
Lueck said Sundquist had door-knocked and done literature drops for his campaign. He described him as one of a group of “young GOP, hard-charging, young conservative guys.”
When he was contacted Thursday afternoon he said he didn’t know if Sundquist was the same person who wrote the letter. Lueck also said he had no knowledge of the letter.
Radinovich said he was not surprised by the misrepresentation.
“Throughout the course of the campaign people supporting my opponent have been misrepresenting my issues,” he said. “I think there are more important things than winning a Minnesota House campaign. I’m happy I kept my campaign above board.”
In a letter sent to the Brainerd Dispatch Thursday two GOP House members criticized Sundquist, identifying him only as a former employee. The letter criticizing the misrepresentation in Sundquist’s letter was written by Rep. Jen Loon, chair of the HRCC Steering Committee, and Rep. Matt Dean, House majority leader. Their letter stated:
“The House Republican Campaign Committee has learned that an employee submitted a letter to the editor to the Brainerd Daily Dispatch misrepresenting himself. We do not condone this action nor do we support this type of campaign tactic. The employee is no longer employed by the House Republican Campaign Committee and is not affiliated with any House Republican campaign.”