Minnesota hospital group has ties to gubernatorial candidate it endorsed
Hospital group has ties to gov hopeful it endorsed
When the political action committee of the Minnesota Hospital Association endorsed a candidate in the state’s governor’s race, it was an unusual move for the group, and not merely because the chosen candidate was neither a Republican nor a Democrat.
In a news release distributed nationally, the Minnesota Hospital Political Action Committee acknowledged that endorsing Independence Party candidate Tom Horner was atypical.
“The projected state budget shortfall and the significant changes that lie ahead for healthcare delivery and financing over the next several years call for us to speak in support of the thoughtful, balanced positions and leadership Tom Horner offers,” said Lawrence Massa, a member of the PAC’s board of directors and president and CEO of the state hospital association, which is a legally separate entity.
The hospital association was breaking with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Fund, the chamber’s PAC, which endorsed Republican Tom Emmer. In siding with Horner, MHA chose a candidate running on the ticket of former Gov. Jesse Ventura’s political party in the Nov. 2 election.
The move comes on the heels of the state’s hospitals, health plans and physicians going around current Gov. Tim Pawlenty in an attempt to get a federal grant to create a health insurance exchange (Oct. 18, p. 17).
The Minnesota Nurses Association, however, cried foul after the hospital association PAC’s endorsement.
Horner is the co-founder of Himle Horner, a large Minneapolis public relations firm that was employed by hospitals in Minneapolis and St. Paul last summer to handle PR during protracted labor strife between the hospitals and the union. The firm has also provided counsel to MHA committees and subsidiaries.
“To us, it felt like a big conflict of interest,” nurse union spokesman John Nemo said.
Horner handled PR for Minnesota hospitals in a labor dispute.