Will Thao Problem Spill Over into Minneapolis Mayor’s Race?

When we learned of the situation between St Paul City Council Member Dai Thoa (DFL) and Hylden Advocacy & Law firm lobbyist Sarah Clarke a couple of clear points came to mind. If the conversation between Thao, Clarke and her clients from Dart Container Corporation, why was the conversation being routed through the campaign rather than the city council office. As we talked to people about this issue, the first comments were, “smells like a set-up.”

The finger pointing started right away with the primary target being former Ward 1 City Council member Melvin Carter III. Since the focus started with Thao’s campaign manager Angela Marlow, President of AFSCME Local 8, the week after the AFSCME state council endorsed Carter, people began speculating aloud, and commenced looking for connections between Clarke and Carter.

The connection might not be hard to figure out. Clarke, is married to Ward 3 City Council Member Jacob Frey (DFL), a candidate for Minneapolis Mayor. Since Frey and Carter served in municipal office at the same time, and are both politically active it doesn’t seem to be a stretch to believe a relationship already exists. It would also seem the Dart Container Corporation, would be interested in speaking with Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin (DFL), the spouse of Nancy Hylden the principal of Hylden Advocacy & Law. Especially, since Hennepin County has the garbage burner. Could this create a wedge issue for Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges (DFL) in her bid for reelection? Is Frey vulnerable to appearing soft on recycling and garbage disposal?

One of the least talked about issues in the St Paul mayor’s race, which we believe will be a huge issue is garbage removal and recycling. With the raft of problems created with the current collection program, its costs, rules, and failed collections, we expect candidates will need to address these issues and have a plan for implementation in the first month of office.

As we watch these issues associated with Thao unfold, we will be interested to see if other names come into the conversation. KMSP Investigative Reporter Tom Lyden, called Thao “a transaction politician” alluding to a pay-to-play operational style. The cozy relationship between money and politics is not anything new. The distance between money and political positions may not be as distant as some may like.

Politicians may need to invoke the words of former California State Treasurer Jesse “Big Daddy” Unruh, “If you can’t eat their food, drink their booze, screw their women, take their money and then vote against them you’ve got no business being up here.”

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