Saint Paul. MN — Ronald “Bud” Carlson, a 68-year old veteran of the Minnesota Senate (R-Lake City), desperately needed a new power tie for an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) annual meeting at a Trump Hotel in Las Vegas last week. But he didn’t have the money to pay for the Stefano Ricci one he needed.
“A lobbyist asked if it was the same red power tie I wore last year,” said Carlson. “It was obviously one of the most profoundly humiliating moments of my life.”
Meanwhile, Becca Nowakowski-Alexopoulos, a 38-year old member of the Minnesota House (DLF-Minneapolis), is weeks behind in her regular contributions to a climate change nonprofit organization, donations which she makes to offset the carbon emitted during her regular plane trips to climate change conferences.
“It’s certainly not a coincidence that hurricanes started devastating vulnerable socioeconomic populations after my carbon offset contributions had to stop,” noted an emotional Nowakowski-Alexopoulos.
Carlson and Nowakowski-Alexopoulos are just two of the many legislators courageously struggling to continue their public service careers in the wake of Governor Mark Dayton’s controversial line-item veto of funding for the Minnesota Legislature. The State Supreme Court recently issued a convoluted non-ruling ruling to avoid resolving the constitutional crisis, instead ordering the Governor and Legislature to work with a mediator and “figure it out yourself.”
But in a heartwarming moment of bipartisan cooperation, Carlson and Nowakowski-Alexopoulos, who are often bitter enemies during legislative debates, have been collaborating to solicit contributions via the crowdfunding website GoFundMe.com.
Their hope is that crowdfunding, the raising of small donations from large numbers of people via the Internet, will help them and their colleagues survive until the bitter impasse with Governor Dayton can be resolved. An estimated $34 billion was raised via crowdfunding in 2015.
“Minnesotans have been truly amazing, sharing their stories of our legislative heroism at #MNlegStrong and digging deep to prove how much they value us,” said Nowakowski-Alexopoulos.
Over the past month, $200,035.73 has been raised, including $100,000 from ALEC and $100,000 from the AFL-CIO. Carlson and Nowakowski-Alexopoulos have recently brought in a second Minnesota Supreme Court-appointed mediator to resolve irreconcilable differences about how to distribute the funds among the 201 legislators and their staffs.