The recent flurry of Freedom Club-sponsored pro-right-to-work direct mail pieces sent to the districts of GOP state senators seen as potential opponents of the controversial ballot initiative were sent from a mail house owned by one of their Senate Republican caucus colleagues, Sen. Chris Gerlach.
Gerlach, the proprietor of Capitol Direct, did not return messages left Friday morning at his home, office, cell phone number, and the Capitol Direct business office. But a staffer in the U.S. Postal Service’s bulk mailing division confirmed that the bulk permit number featured on the mailings (#7732) belongs to Capitol Direct.
The mailings, conceived by Freedom Club State PAC (one of whose founders, Primera Technology CEO Bob Cummins, is a leading donor to Republican party units and causes), have been a source of anxiety and consternation to some Republican senators, who anticipate a hard-fought battle over whether the right-to-work amendment advances in both chambers. Known recipients to date include Sens. Julianne Ortman, Carla Nelson, Claire Robling, and Julie Rosen.
Gerlach had apparently not informed Senate colleagues of his business’s relationship with the pro-right-to-work push. Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem told PIM around noon on Friday that he only learned of the role of Gerlach’s company in the mailings on Thursday evening. Asked whether he believed the arrangement could pose a problem of perception or an ethical conflict for Gerlach, who voted with all but one of his GOP colleagues to reassign the amendment bill to a friendlier committee on Thursday, Senjem said, “I haven’t even had a chance to think it through yet.”
Here’s a copy of one RTW mailing, with Capitol Direct’s permit number highlighted. Click on image to enlarge.
Staff writer Maggi McDermott contributed reporting to this post.