What Goes On In Room 208, State Capitol? Video Hints At Campaign Violations

The sign on the door of Room 208 in the State Capitol says, “G. Michel, Jobs & Economic Growth.” It used to be former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch’s office. A few days ago it apparently the center of campaign activity for for Senators Ted Lillie and Ted Daley. There was a parade of people, some of them Senate staffers, entering the room from the corridor or a door across the hall opening into a hallway. They were leaving with bag lunches. State ethics laws are clear that an employee must not use state time, supplies, or state-owned property and equipment for private interests — including campaigning. A recent memo from Secretary of the Senate Cal Ludeman reminded Senate staff of the Minnesota Senate’s policy against using public resources for campaigning. If indeed this was campaign activity it is an apparent violation.

Fox News, Channel 9, broke the story on August 14, 2012. A Tom Lyden report documented the actions.

Shawn Towle, publisher of ChecksandBalances.com, Minnesota’s first on-line political magazine, recorded 22 minutes of the traffic in and out of room 208. The video accompanying this story is the uncut 22 minute recording of Door 208 activities. Senate Chief of Staff Kevin Matzek was seen in the parade using the office, but he declined to be interviewed by with Checks & Balances or Fox News.

According to Checks and Balances, if you watch the video at 6:53 you will hear an interchange between Matzek and Checks & Balances Publisher Shawn Towle. Then at 12:01 Matzek stands in front of the camera to block the shot.

Kevin Matzek Entering Room 208

Allegedly invitations were sent out by email to staffers and other interested persons promising a bag lunch in exchange for lit drop and instructions on how to handle the time devoted to this task.

Videos and text of email:
Video above: edited comings and goings outside room 208.
Below: full video of outside of room 208

From: Maureen Watson [Email Redacted]
Date: August 9, 2012 11:41:43 AM CDT
To: [Sent to Emails are Redacted]
Subject: THANK YOU!!


Wanted to thank all of you who were able to help out this week with our lunch hour lit dropping and phoning! We had over 40 people out over the three days – so super turn out. Senator Lillie and Senator Daley have both emailed me thanking you for volunteering. It really let’s them know we are in this together – and is the incentive they need to hit the streets and door-knock – again!

We have a similar plan in store for next week – going out lit dropping on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Please let me know when you would like to join us. If you are new to our Caucus and to our Lunch Hour Lit Drops – please consider joining us. It really helps out our Caucus and it is fun. If you have someone to pair up with great – if not, just show up in 208 about 10:45/11 – and you can join one of the groups. It is a great way to get to know your co-workers.

Of course – as always, lunches will be ready for you in Room 208 starting at 10:45.

Also – if you don’t have a lot or any comp time or vacation – consider going out one day a week. If you take your lunch and breaks at your desk the rest of the week – you should be able to get about 2 hours for a lit drop on one day without losing any hours.

Again – thanks for your efforts this week – and here’s to a successful next week!


P.S. I know that there are several of you from our staff out on Salary Savings – doing the Lord’s work on campaigns near and far – I just don’t want to take you off the email list since you are still a part of our family! We miss you!

Bill Sorem

Bill Sorem is a longtime advertising professional who started with Campbell Mithun and ended up with his own agency. After a tour as a sailing fleet manager in the Virgin Islands he turned to database programming as an independent consultant. He has written sailing guides for the British Virgin Islands and Belize, and written for a number of blogs. In 2010, he volunteered as a citizen journalist with The UpTake and has stayed on as a video reporter.

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