The MN GOP digs up a resolved issue:
Rybak Later Returned Campaign Cash From Facilitator. “Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak will return contributions made to his campaign last year by the $175-an-hour facilitator hired by the city to help him and City Council members develop good working relationships. … [Linda] Houden, of the Minneapolis firm DOR & Associates, donated $650 to Rybak’s campaign through Oct. 22, according to Rybak’s most recent disclosure form. Individuals are limited to $500 in contributions to mayoral campaigns in election years, and Sether said it was likely the campaign previously refunded the extra $150.” (Rochelle Olson, “Rybak says he’ll return donation from facilitator,” Star Tribune, January 5, 2002)
It looks like this didn’t look good back in 2002, so it was resolved. Eight years ago, during Rybak’s first year as Mayor.
Rybak isn’t the first politician to run into conflict of interest issues with campaign contributors. While I don’t remember the specifics of this issue, it seems like the smart thing to do was exactly what the campaign did: Refund the contribution.
Regarding whether it makes sense at all to hire $175/hr facilitators, this does sound like another case of looking as costs rather than returns on investment. Money spent in this fashion is done as an investment. Some investments pay for themselves many times over. Some do not. So by looking at just the cost, the MN GOP is ignoring whether the cost was justified or not.