Brother of Minnesota SOS launches new PAC

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October 12, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota: Niel Ritchie, brother of Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, filed papers with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board in early October 2010 to start up a new political action committee (PAC) called Greater Minnesota Votes.[1]

Niel, currently the executive director of the League of Rural Voters, a nonprofit that creates media and advocacy campaigns for rural issues, has, in the past, had controversial connections with his brother. Both Mark and Niel own and operate a "'sustainable coffee' company called Headwaters, Inc., which does business with the public using the name Peace Coffee." Not only does Headwaters, Inc. conduct its operations out of the same office as the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), the very same non-profit organization Mark Ritchie is president of that "just happens to advocate society's total conversion to Peace Coffee's main product," the company has received over $20,000 from the Tides Foundation, "alleged to be one of the most corrupt players in American political money laundering."[2]

Founded in 1976 by California activist and liberal philanthropist Drummond Pike, the Tides Center and its tangled web of offshoot operations has "established itself as an important funding nexus for movements and causes aligned with leftist ideology."[3] The Tides Center also has ties to the embattled ACORN organization. Wade Rathke, who helped found ACORN, "has been a Tides director from the start and chairs Tides, Inc."[4] Rathke's brother, Dale, laundered over $900,000 from ACORN, a crime that was never reported to law enforcement; "the Rathke family was allowed to work out a deal to repay the money" so as to keep the incident quiet and out of the public eye.[5]

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