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Pfeilsticker funding comes under fire

The Democrats' endorsed candidate in the race to succeed Rep. Steve Sviggum came under fire Monday for accepting what her opponent's campaign called an illegal contribution.

Staffers for GOP challenger Steve Drazkowski accused Linda Pfeilsticker of accepting a single contribution of $1,000 - an amount twice the limit allowed for the race under state campaign finance laws.

"It is disturbing the Pfeilsticker campaign blatantly accepted this illegal contribution," said Drazkowski's campaign treasurer, John Adams, who requested the state's Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board investigate the matter.

Pfeilsticker, a Wabasha-area teacher, called the situation "a misunderstanding at best." Contacted Monday evening, she said her staffers thought that since two names were on the contribution, they represented two separate $500 donations.

A document filed with the state board indicates the contribution was from one person.

Half of that donation - registered to Katherine Geiger of Winona, according to campaign records - was refunded, Pfeilsticker and her campaign treasurer both said.

"We're doing our best to rectify it," Pfeilsticker said.

Provided that is the case, Drazkowski and his staffers said they would be satisfied.

"If they've done that, obviously that's great," said Drazkowski's campaign manager, Deb Roschen. "We just thought it was helpful to hold them accountable."

Drazkowski's campaign staff issued a press release on Pfeilsticker's contribution Sunday afternoon - less than two days before Pfeilsticker and Pine Island's Wes Moreland were to face each other in the Democratic primary, which gets under way today.

As of Monday evening, Drazkowski held nearly a $3,000 fundraising edge over Pfeilsticker in the District 28B race.

Moreland, also contacted Monday, said he hasn't raised any money for his campaign and has spent less than $600 of his own funds.

Pfeilsticker had raised $12,180, said her campaign treasurer, Mary Lu Harney, while Adams said Drazkowski had drawn about $15,000.

Moreland recently returned from a study trip in England, but stressed that he remains a legitimate candidate.

"My policy," the self-described conservative Democrat said in a phone interview, "is to stand and deliver and go right at them."

Moreland shrugged off criticism from within his own party for not withdrawing his candidacy after losing the DFL endorsement.

If that means public bodies shelling out more funds for a primary election, Moreland said voters shouldn't point the finger at him.

"(Gov.) Tim Pawlenty and Steve Sviggum created the vacancy for District 28B. Send them the bill," he said.

"I'm just a citizen trying to run for a vacant office. I will not be bullied."

Drazkowski and the Democratic candidate will square off in an Aug. 7 special election. The vacancy emerged after Pawlenty appointed Sviggum, R-Kenyon, to lead the state's Department of Labor and Industry.