Minneapolis, Minnesota – The Michels Corporation, headed by Trump-endorsed Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels, has contracts with the City of Minneapolis and an exclusive contract with CenterPoint Energy to service gas lines in Minneapolis, which raises concerns for residents.
DeCourcy Squire, a Minneapolis resident, shut off gas to her Stevens Square condo and stopped paying CenterPoint Energy (CPE) in Houston. Instead, she began to use alternative energy to power her home. She had been a tax resister ever since the Vietnam WarShe was unable to continue contributing to the gas company in good conscience after she became involved with MN350, a grassroots group opposing the Line 3 Dakota Access Pipeline.
Squire told Unicorn Riot that she first learned about Michels Corporation while protesting Line 3, but didn’t realize they had an exclusive contract with CenterPoint Energy until recently.
“Pushing for corporate divestment is very important but I think personal divestment is also a small step towards an alternative future,” Squire said, not just referring to alternative energy but also alternative politics free of corporate influence.
The Michels Corporation, which includes its subsidiaries Michels Pipeline, Inc, Michels Power, Inc., Michels Construction, Inc., Michels Construction, Inc., Michels Utility Services, Inc., Michels Trenchless, Inc., Michels Road and Stone, Inc., and Michels Pacific Energy, Inc., is now one of the largest North American utility contractors. They were first known to Twin Cities activists through the Dakota Access Pipeline construction. reportedBy Unicorn Riot.
Michels currently has three offices throughout Minnesota. The Brooklyn Park office, which opened in 2017, is the newest. It joins its Lakeville and Rogers locations. Michels claims that their goal is to expand Midwest service capabilities.
CenterPoint Energy’s website lists 27 active projectsMinneapolis alone, including Minnehaha and Hiawatha, Fulton and Kenwood neighborhoods, all use Michels Corporation.
As Transportation Funds Increase, So Do Michels’ Revenues
Michels Corp. and Michels Pipeline Construction have involvement in several special interest groups, especially three main lobby associations — Wisconsin Transportation Building Association, Transportation Development Association, and Construction Business Group, all with the primary aim to increase state transportation funds, allowing for more public contract money to flow directly to the Michels Corporation.
Individual employees and their immediate families of Michels Corporation donated an average of $1,04,5 million during the 2022 election cycle. $46,142According to the research group the largest recipient of $20,000 was the Republican National Convention (RNC), according to the research group OpenSecretsThe National Organization for the Tracking of Money in Elections and Its Effects on Public Policy is the, This amount is significantly lower than that of $134,905The 2020 election cycle saw the RNC receive donations from Michels affiliates. Recent campaign donations to Republican congressional candidate Derrick Van Orden, and U.S. Representative Glenn Grothman from Wisconsin have also been trackedIndividuals from the Michels Corporation in amounts of $17 399 and $4,650, respectively
Wisconsin Right Now, a conservative news outlet, found that Michels’ involvement in special interest groups, with Michels executives serving in lieu of himself, has helped the company acquire nearly 1.2 billion dollarsContracts with the state of Wisconsin can imply public-private gaineering. The Minneapolis-based news website Southwest VoicesMichels Corp. reported $12.7 million in contracts with the City of MinneapolisSince the beginning of 2020 alone.
Michels is not connected to any lobbying efforts for higher gas taxes, higher registration fees and tax exemptions on gasoline and diesel fuel sold in school districts. However, it is clear that Michels was Board President of the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association and that Michels was a member of the executive board of the Transportation Development Association have contributed financially to groups working to increase the gas tax.
Both the Democratic Party of Wisconsin as well as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reportedHe stated that if Tim Michels wins Wisconsin governorship, he will sell the Michels Corporation to his brothers. Regardless, if Michels becomes Wisconsin’s next governor, his family company and special interest groups will have one of their own at the helm of decisionmaking on government contracts and public utilities spending.
Michels admittedly said this he wants his family to continue seeking state-wide contractsDespite obvious political conflicts of interests, The company’s contracts in just the last five years from the state of Wisconsin exceed $660 millionIn payments
Tim Michels’ Right-Wing Gubernatorial Campaign
Michels declared his candidacy to be Wisconsin governor in 2021. But Wisconsin residents have challenged Michels’ residency, pointing to his East Coast homes where he lives much of the year, including his seventeen-million-dollar mansion in Connecticut and luxury penthouse on New York City’s Upper East Side.
In June 2022, former President Trump endorsed Michels, who has supported the “big lie” that Trump won the 2020 election and has suggested he will work to overturn the state’s 2020 election results if he wins in November. He pledged to end bipartisanship Wisconsin Elections CommissionIt enforces state election laws. Additionally, Michels has doubled down in recent cultural wars committing to fight so-called ‘critical race theory’ (CRT) being taught in public schools, abortion and more.
Michels has been outspoken about his anti-abortion stance and says he’d ban abortion and emergency contraceptives if elected Wisconsin governor. “I believe God is unhappy with the country that allows for the killing of babies,” he said at an event in Calumet County, WI.
In polls throughout 2022, former Lt. Gov. was the most popular choice. Rebecca Kleefisch is the clear favorite in the Wisconsin Republican primary for the gubernatorial seat. Kleefisch’s former boss, the former GOP rising star, is supporting her, ex-Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Michels won her Republican primary victory on August 9, just one day after Mar-a-Lago was invaded by the FBI. with 47% of the voteKleefisch won by five points.
Residents React to the Minneapolis–Michels Connection
Residents in Minnesota and Wisconsin are concerned about Michels Corp.’s ongoing government contracts and its exclusive partnership with CenterPoint Energy, which holds a monopoly on natural gas in the Twin Cities. These concerns are becoming intensified now as they become aware of their unwitting contribution to Michels’ campaign.
“I wonder if I’m paying for this unnecessary MPD protection & supporting Tim Michels for governor through my CenterPoint bill or directly to MPD with my property taxes?” Nikki Carlson, who uses the handle @M_Nikki_dUrso, tweeted.
Carlson, a North Minneapolis resident shared her encounter with a Michels worker on July 13. She saw what she thought was ineffective Minneapolis law enforcement.
“I asked the Michels guy why there are so many police squads there. He said to guard their employees while working in ‘the ghetto.’”
Minneapolis Police Department also uses my block as a patrol. Gas lines will be replaced at 16th and Penn in North Mpls this year. I asked Michels man why there were so many police units there. He explained that they were there to protect their employees while they worked in the ghetto. /1 pic.twitter.com/e3Qiv3vJqq
— Domestic Infant Supply ’65 (@M_Nikki_dUrso) July 13, 2022
North Minneapolis is the historic Black area of the city, activists claim. It has been under-resourced and over-policed for many generations.
The Michels’ worker told Carlson that police protection was a condition of their contract. Michels has been seen in other parts of the town by residents who don’t have police protection.
One person tweeted that Michels’ staff vehicles have far-right bumper stickers on them that make residents feel “very uneasy.”
Minneapolis residents have also raised concerns about Michels’ hiring practices and worry that the company apparently doesn’t hire Black people. “WHY is this co. laying pipe in N. Mpls & putting their workers from Wright County in hotels when we have qualified people right here?” Carlson tweeted.
Andrea Jenkins, Minneapolis City Council president, has sent the same concerns to CenterPoint Energy in emails. “I share many of the concerns you’ve identified and have brought these issues up with CenterPoint Energy many times…While it is true that our utilities payments support the Michels company, no taxpayer dollars support this, in fact the utility companies have to pay for permits to the city to do the work.”
However, Michels Corp. has several contracts with the city’s Public Works Department paid by Minneapolis taxpayers, which was reported last month by Southwest Voices.
Minneapolis police (MPD), who provide security for Michels while they are working in North Minneapolis are being paid privately through their contract with CPE, Council member Jenkins said.
MPD can wear their city uniforms, drive taxpayer-funded squad cars, and work off-duty security jobs with private companies.
However, Fox 9Recently, MPD was found protecting the Target and Michels construction crews during their regular shift. “During those day shifts, Fox 9 cameras found officers stationed around retail stores and construction sites.”
“During those day shifts, Fox 9 cameras found officers stationed around retail stores and construction sites”
— Dimitri Drekonja (@Ddrekonja) September 15, 2022
Carlson tweeted that a drunken cop working security for Michels confronted her and suggested that taxpayers are paying them. “Angry intoxicated MPD officer just told me it isn’t about preserving police resources to focus on violent crime, it’s about OVERTIME pay for light duty & I need to STFU. (& everyone but me knows this).” She reacted, “I was naive thinking the objective was public safety.”
According to a source, MPD is supposed to inform contractors when and if they require protection.
Jenkins added, “To be clear, I find the response of the Michels employee to the Northside resident’s question to be despicable, Michels needs to create a more diverse workforce that reflects the communities they serve.” However, the city council president made no commitment to take any action.
One resident uses the handle @JenAntila tweeted that when their sewer line failed over a decade ago, a city public works employee gave them a list of city approved sewer line contractors and said, “‘I can’t recommend anyone but my pen slipped,’ Michels was circled. I hired them.”
@JenAntila told Unicorn RiotHer sewer line broke in January, and Michels did a good repair job. After learning about the politics of the company, she regrets her decision. “I just hate knowing what an a-hole [Tim] Michels is and knowing how much the city and & constituents (like me) bankroll him and have for decades.”
“These are the same a$$holes that last summer were tearing up forests, wet lands & waters in Northern MN to put in another Enbridge pipeline,” tweeted another.
Residents were struck by the irony that Minneapolis cops called the city dangerous, while the same officers are used to protect private businesses rather than the public.
“These police officers care more about protecting out-of-towners from imaginary danger than protecting their own citizens from real danger,” one user tweeted.
Residents claim that the police intentionally made the city less safe by slowing down their work, and threatening to not get out of their squad cars while they patrol.
“And they say they don’t have staff to patrol/have a constant presence in Dinkytown at night,” tweeted another.
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As Trump-endorsed Republican, Tim Michels solidifies his conservative ideologies in Wisconsin’s gubernatorial race, it remains unclear to Minneapolis residents just how much they are funding his right-wing campaign steeped in anti-democracy rhetoric, simply by paying taxes and their monthly gas bill.
“Minnesota’s energy dollars are supporting a candidate for governor of Wisconsin that wants to ban all abortions with no exceptions for rape and incest. He opposes same-sex marriage, and all LGBQT Rights. Is that what you want? I know I don’t,” Carlson told Unicorn Riot.
While the exact dollar amount coming from Minneapolis residents into Michels’ campaign cannot be estimated, it is apparent that Tim Michels is profiteering from his company’s contracts with the City of Minneapolis Public Works Department and its Exclusive contract with CenterPoint Energy, helping fund his race — with Michels being the largest donorFundraising totalling $12 million, $11,940882.25 was donated to his campaign.
Nathaniel Guthrie uses the Twitter handle @WoodGhuthriemplsCPE should be boycotted, suggested. “Imagine that, Centerpoint energy supports racists. We can’t be shocked that the cops do, but this open cowardice and racism from Michels corporation should be stressed to center point.” Adding, “Be a shame if we all here in ‘the ghetto’ stopped paying them en masse.”
Unicorn RiotThis story was told to CenterPoint Energy by several people I called and emailed. When we asked CenterPoint Energy’s Director of Communications in Minneapolis, Hannah Gullickson, if CPE will respond to the numerous residents who object to funding Michels’ right-wing campaign through their gas bills, she said she doesn’t speak to the press and forwarded the message to Ross Corson, Senior Communications Specialist. Corson has not responded immediately to our inquiry.