Political spending up everywhere except the Quam-Entenza household

Students of Minnesota politics may remember that state Rep. Matt Entenza and his wife, healthcare exec Lois Quam, made headlines during the 2004 election season for shelling out some $600,000 in political contributions. (Serious political junkies will also recall that $300,000 of that went to a Democratic political action committee that was subsequently fined $317,000 for not having it's t's crossed--a little dustup that drew attention to the donation, which was on the up-and-up.) Entenza, of course, was then positioning himself for a run for state Attorney General. That effort collapsed in July after Entenza admitted conducting a background investigation on current AG and gubernatorial hopeful Mike Hatch.

The Quam-Entenza household has been much more circumspect so far in the 2006 campaign finance cycle. On the state and federal levels, files compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics and Minnesota's Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board show Quam, who is the CEO of UnitedHealthcare's Ovations division, donating some $46,000 this time out, most of it in two large chunks: $25,000 to Minnesota's DFL in December 2005 and $10,000 to the state party again in August, after her husband had withdrawn from the AG's race. For his part, Entenza's giving in the '06 cycle totals about $77,000; $71,000 of that was doled out in 2005.

Extant from this total may be any contributions made by either Quam or Entenza to the so-called 527 committees, advocacy groups that spend money to influence public opinion about elections and political issues. Because 527s are regulated by the IRS and not by the Federal Election Commission, donors are much more difficult to trace. The Center for Responsive Politics, which examines federally focused 527s, shows no donation from the couple in the current cycle, but cautions that it doesn't track this spending at the state level. In general, however, 527 donations are down in the current cycle.

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