State Fair Doughnut Stand Moonlights as DFL Cash Machine

Minnesotans enjoying the “Great Minnesota Get-Together” could be donating to the DFL without knowing it.

Credit: Mack Male

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. – Fairgoers enjoying a classic fair food could be inadvertently supporting the Democratic party.

A mini doughnut stand at the Minnesota State Fair is raising eyebrows for its political contributions. For decades, the profits from Grandstand Mini doughnuts, run by the DFL political action committee 10th Ward & Rural Ramsey County, have gone to DFL candidates and groups. The booth, which raised over $200,000 last year, does not warn customers that their purchases are a political contribution.

Earlier this year, Republican lawmakers tried to pass a bill that would require the booth to have a DFL sign posted. Rep. Randy Jessup (R-Shoreview) led the fight in the House against the booth, saying it was a matter of transparency and deception.

“I ask all of us: Do you want to defend this type of an operation? Does the end justify the means? Is it right to deceive people making a purchase and then having it become a political contribution?” Jessup told the Pioneer Press.

John Treadwell, a board member of the DFL political action committee, stands by the committee’s decision to saying it is “nobody’s business” how the profits get used.

“You don’t know where the money is going from any of the booths out here,” Treadwell told KSTP. “We are in business making a product, selling a product and actually what we do with our proceeds from the booth is really nobody’s business.”

While the booth refuses to hang signs indicating their political stance, they have made changes to comply with Minnesota campaign finance law. The stand now enforces a purchase limit of four bags of doughnuts at five dollars each. Under Minnesota campaign finance law, contributions over $20 to a political entity must be reported with the name of the person donating.

Christine Bauman