Arne Carlson and Thomas Kelm

After several aborted attempts to find a writer to tell his story Don Boyd got a nibble from a particularly promising fish; Republican State Auditor Arne Carlson. Carlson, who was considering a run for the Governor's office contacted Don to find out about the old scandal in the years of Governor Anderson. At the time of Arne's inquiries Rudy Perpich was the Governor of the State. (Note from author. I've recently written about the 1990 campaign that pitted the two men against each other)

During their conversations Arne told Don that the rumor had been that rather than a million dollars being stolen from the Federal Government the figure was closer to 5.5 million dollars. Whatever information Don was able to provide to the State Auditor it was not enough to make political hay and Carlson let the subject drop.

Subsequently, and unknown to Mr. Boyd, Arne Carlson was to put Thomas Kelm's talent for fund raising to good use for his own campaign just as Kelm had once helped the Democrat, Wendell Anderson in 1974. Kelm, perhaps impressed with the powers of the FBI to track down illegal shenanigans, had found a source for endless amounts of legitimate political cash - the tobacco lobby. 

Although this information was probably not terribly secret in 1990 when campaign reports would have been poured over by every reporter in the state capitol seventeen years makes it very old news which surprised this writer when he discovered it. Thankfully the combination of Google and the anti-smoking lobby have kept this old news from disappearing.

A study called: "Shifting Tides, Minnesota Tobacco Politics" which is kept online by the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education explains part of this fascinating history on pages 49 -52 of a PDF file. It makes interesting reading.

Ironically, Kelm's early beneficiary, Wendell Anderson, signed revolutionary anti tobacco law in 1975. An abstract for the tobacco control Center puts this history succinctly: 

"Minnesota was a pioneer in the tobacco control movement in the United States. Minnesota enjoyed early success with the passage of the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act in 1975 which created nonsmoking sections in public places, including workplaces and restaurants throughout the state. While modest by 2003 standards, this act represented a major step forward at the time. It was enacted without any overt opposition from the tobacco industry, something that would never happen again."

Having been a target of the FBI investigation and having escaped its net Kelm, a man famous for his ability to find money was in a remarkable position to capitalize on his intimate involvement with the Anderson Administration and the Tobacco Industry's worst nightmare: anti-smoking legislation.

Since Minnesota's landmark anti-smoking legislation the Tobacco Industry has used its deep pockets to vigorously fight similar legislation in the other 49 states. Thomas Kelm who's former boss, Anderson, inaugurated this war, now fights for his boss's old adversary which has the advantage of having deep and completely legal pockets. 

From 1989 to 1994 Arne Carlson received $5,000 in contributions from the tobacco industry. Carlson defeated Governor Rudy Perpich 1n 1990 with Tom Kelm's help. What strange bedfellows politics make! Perpich had once been Governor Wendell Anderson's Lieutenant Governor. He had even appointed Anderson to the U.S. Senate when Walter Mondale stepped aside to become the Vice President of the United States in 1972. 

More significantly, Kelm and two other tobacco lobbyists became fundraisers for Carlson's 1994 reelection campaign and jointly raised $10,000 for him. This was chicken feed for the Tobacco Industry. In 1993 alone they spent over $250,000 lobbying to prevent  tobacco control in Minnesota.

If Don ever had any hopes that Arne Carlson would help expose the true nature of the scandal that sent him to prison those hopes seem particularly futile today. In 2001 Arne Carlson's son Arne "Tucker" Carlson  was one of Tom Kelm's " associates" fighting for the tobacco industry against the "smoke free" do-gooders. As  they say, blood is thicker than water.




His firm is Kelm and Associates.