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          Front Page




Torraco Leads in Fundraising

By T.J. Wilham
Journal Staff Writer
       District Attorney Kari Brandenburg has pumped more than $70,000 of her own cash into her re-election to keep up with fundraising by Republican challenger Lisa Torraco.
    Brandenburg has an edge in total campaign cash, but Torraco has raised more money from outside sources.
    According to campaign finance reports filed last week, Torraco had raised $82,590.
    Brandenburg, a Democrat, reported a total of $122,210. That included $50,000 she lent her own campaign and $20,000 she contributed outright.
    The job pays $109,000 annually.
    Of Torraco's money, $15,000 came from Charles Travelstead, president and chief executive officer of Brown-Minneapolis Tank Co, a metal refinery company; Jalapeno Corp., an oil and gas producer; and Cliff's Amusement Park.
    More than $14,000 came from various attorneys. And more than 213 people donated $500 or less.
    "This shows I have significantly more community support," Torraco said. "I have people coming off the street into my office giving me $25, telling me to please get that woman out of office. People are furious at Brandenburg."
    Some of Torraco's small contributions caught Brandenburg's attention: eight bail bondsmen who donated a total of $1,600.
    Brandenburg said she has never accepted contributions from bail bondsmen and calls doing so unethical.
    "I would not take money from bondsmen. That is a clear conflict of interest," Brandenburg said. "(Torraco) has been out on the campaign trail promoting low bonds. That raises potential conflict.
    "Is she going to be the law-and-order district attorney that wants what's best, or is she going to be promoting low bonds because she has support from the bail bondsmen?"
    Torraco defends the contributions, saying "bondsmen know more about what happens in the criminal justice system than any segment of our population, and the bondsmen are disgusted with what they see in the District Attorney's Office."
    Other than herself, Brandenburg didn't have any one person donate more than $1,500 to her campaign. Torraco had eight in that category.
    "I think the difference in the campaign contributions reveal the fact that my focus has been on doing my job," Brandenburg said. "I have not spent much time trying to raise money because I have been working long hours at my job."
    People who donated $1,000 or more to Brandenburg's campaign include attorneys Sam Bregman, Randi McGinn and Charlotte Rich; the law firm of Sanchez, Mowrer, & Desiderio; and physician James R. Shiveley.
    Her father, former DA Jim Brandenburg, who has done a television commercial for his daughter's campaign, contributed $200.
    More than $23,000 — nearly half — of Brandenburg's contributions came from attorneys.
    "It's clear I have support from a lot of attorneys," Brandenburg said. "They are familiar with the system and are in the position to understand the job I have done."