Don Samuels: Unions gave me "an envelope with a couple grand" for Vikings stadium vote

don samuels 500.jpg
Samuels said he was handsomely compensated for a vote that made labor unions happy.
::: UPDATE :::: Don Samuels clarifies Vikings stadium vote motivation: "It was all about jobs"

Buried in a recent Star Tribune piece about the Minneapolis mayoral race is a shocking quote from City Council member and mayoral candidate Don Samuels.

SEE ALSO: Who's in the race? A guide to the six candidates for Minneapolis mayor

In one passage, Samuels seems to say that a coalition of union workers handed an envelope with a couple thousand dollars inside after he voted in favor of a new Vikings stadium last May. The stadium funding plan, you might recall, was approved by the City Council in a 7-6 vote.

From the Strib piece (emphasis mine):
Just a few months ago, dozens of union workers gathered for a fund­raiser hosted by the Trades Council and the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation in honor of the seven council members who voted for the stadium. They praised them for supporting economic development. They made campaign contributions...

Council Member Don Samuels, a stadium backer who attended, recalled feeling surprised at the show of union support because he had not previously enjoyed a close relationship with organized labor.

"I didn't know that that could happen -- that all the unions could get together like that, and I got an envelope with ... a couple grand," he said recently.
Later in the piece, Samuels acknowledges that labor unions have historically been lukewarm toward him, but says "they really liked me" for the stadium vote.

In any event, the imagery of a bunch of union workers slipping a City Council member a couple thousand dollars in an envelope in exchange for a pro-labor vote certainly seems shady. But it should be noted that Samuels has a history of making over-the-top and controversial public statements.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

Why doesn't Don Samuels tell us about the sweet deals he got from Franklin bank????

Darrin Rosha
Darrin Rosha

I agree with Melissa. This headline sounds like he was paid cash to vote a certain way. But in reality it appears he received a campaign contribution for his mayoral race well after the vote. I hope the misleading headline wasn't intentional.


Like all local candidates in Hennepin County, Don Samuels is required to file campaign finance reports with the county Elections Division.  Councilmember Samuels did so, and the document reports that his city council campaign committee received contributions in late November 2012 from a number of building trade union PACs.  

Here's the link:

While it may seem odd on the surface that the money went to his council campaign committee, that circumstance is explained by the fact that he didn't file for the mayor's race until late December.

I hope that the City Pages staff will use this database, as it supplies ready answers to the questions raised in this short blog post.


If you're a white Republican, it's just called "lobbying."



It's not just a sensationalized headline, it's downright libellous. 

The current link on the front page to this story currently reads "Samuels: Unions gave me envelope of cash for stadium vote". The word "cash" has varying definitions, but in the context of a specific exchange (i.e. receiving an envelope with something in it) the word has only one definition: currency. Actual dollar bills.

That's an allegation that is unsupported by the quote or the (nonexistent) research.

'We'll be contacting Samuels's office today to try to get some clarification about his "envelope with a couple grand" remark.'

 When you do that, you are going to find that any contributions were made via check,  fully documented,  within the applicable campaign finance rules, and were not subject to any identifiable quid pro quo.

 Good job, good effort though guys!

Melissa Dreier
Melissa Dreier

If you read the article, there was a fundraiser AFTER the vote to raise money to support the politicians who supported what they wanted. Happens every day. We all have the right to contribute to campaigns if we want. Since Mr. Samuels wasn't aware he would be receiving money, & didn't even have a prior relationship with the unions prior to the vote, per his own words, his vote was not bought. There's no story here.


wow, if that's not a sensationalized headline, I don't know what is.

Now Trending

Minnesota Concert Tickets

From the Vault