The Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association (MADA) describes itself as “an advocate for Minnesota’s retail motor vehicle industry and an important source of legal, legislative and industry information.” This trade group asserts itself as a voice for franchised new car and truck dealers in Minnesota, but also has deep organizational ties to conservative politics and long standing opposition to clean air and safety laws in Minnesota. The group regularly supports policymakers who ease pollution restrictions and constrain public investment in clean energy and clean transportation solutions. MADA President Scott Lambert has long ties to conservative politics in Minnesota, even serving as campaign chairman for Jeff Johnson during his 2018 run for governor.
MADA publicly opposed the Clean Cars plan in Minnesota, filing a long public comment full of fossil fuel industry misinformation. The association claims that stricter air quality standards and increased incentives for low and zero emission vehicles would be too divisive among Minnesotans and restrict consumer choice. They assert that Minnesota doesn’t need clean air standards because the state already has clean air, dismissing the reality that pollution control standards are to credit for clean air. MADA has also claimed, counter to public opinion polling, that electric vehicle incentives are pointless because people don’t want electric vehicles.
MADA maintains a quiet campaign to support conservative legislators that support pro-polluter policies. MADA runs a secretive PAC and independent expenditure committee to support conservative candidates called Driving MN. MADA doesn’t publicly disclose the PAC on its website or in any materials beyond the required Campaign Finance Board Disclosures. However, MADA is the sole source of funding for the committee that has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years to defeat clean air candidates and elect pro-pollution politicians.