Candidate for Minnesota Governor Tight-Lipped About Previous PR Work

Photo: MinnPost photo by Bill Kelley

These days, Tom Horner is running for governor of Minnesota. Until June of this year, he was a PR pro with a firm, Himle Horner, bearing his name. According to the Star Tribune (Minneapolis – St. Paul), “He has been criticized by those who say his professional dealings should be vetted for potential conflicts of interest before voters decide whether they want him as their next governor.” But, not only is he keeping quiet, the firm isn’t commenting on its clients or Horner’s work either.

Some of the work is public and names Horner as the practitioner who worked on the account. For instance, the firm worked with the Minnesota Vikings to help them get a new stadium, and Horner is named for his work with a Minnesota State Colleges and Universities retreat. Other firm clients include the Metropolitan Council in 2004 during labor negotiations and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which had a new bridge that replaced another that collapsed in 2007.

According to Himle Horner chief exec John Himle, confidentiality prohibits them from talking about clients. “That doesn’t give me the right to start discussing a [client], just because he’s running for governor,” he’s quoted as saying.

But it makes the firm and Tom Horner – a candidate who needs to build public trust – look suspicious to be so restrained when so much of the work is public. Horner and his old firm should’ve been prepared for the scrutiny that his previous PR ties would come under during a high-profile political campaign.

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