MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- GOP Senate candidate Norm Coleman has tapped corporate executives and political action committees for much of the $5.5 million he has raised through June 30.
Coleman, who is challenging Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., has received more than $200,000 from three of Minnesota's largest corporations -- Target Corp., United Health Group and 3M Co., according to an analysis by the Star Tribune. Some of that went directly to Coleman's campaign, while some went to joint committees he formed with the state and national Republican parties.
The former St. Paul mayor also has attracted hundreds of thousands of dollars in individual and PAC donations from major companies nationwide. The Minnesota race is seen as pivotal in the battle for control of the thinly-divided Senate.
Steven Schier, a political science professor at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., said the donations could come back to hurt Coleman.
"He has been raising an awful lot of money from very wealthy individuals and corporations," giving Wellstone a chance to embarrass him in the current climate of corporate scandals, Schier said.
Many of the companies donating to Coleman have a big stake in federal policy on issues such as heath care, taxes, trade, energy and the minimum wage. He has been forced to answer awkward questions amid the recent wave of corporate accounting scandals. His donations are linked to a dozen companies that either allegedly misled or have been sanctioned for misleading shareholders.
Chided by the Wellstone campaign to keep a pledge he made in a radio interview, Coleman decided to give away $4,000 in donations people at three of the fallen companies -- WorldCom, Arthur Andersen and Global Crossing.
"Basically, the country is tilting against corporate America at the very moment when Coleman is passing the hat to corporate America," said Lawrence Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political scientist. "Coleman's campaign fund-raising plays right into Senator Wellstone's populist, anti-corporate message."
Coleman campaign manager Ben Whitney calls the Wellstone campaign's assertion that the former mayor will be beholden to corporate interests a "phony charge."
"It's belied by the facts," he said, stressing that Coleman "has taken positions that are not popular with some of his donors."
He cited Coleman's stance against oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, his support of an increase in the minimum wage that might annoy national retailer Target and his tough stand on corporate responsibility.
Of the $5.5 million raised through June 30 by the Coleman camp, nearly $1 million came from PACs, mostly corporate PACs, and the rest from individual donors who gave at least $200.
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