Rep Hagedorn, Radio DJ Interview Payola Deal Could Draw FCC Inquiry

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Rep Jim Hagedorn (R-MN) and KTOE DJ Al Travis Thielfoldt face further questions about the nature of their working relationship as documents raise questions over whether Rep Hagedorn’s campaign paid Thielfoldt for radio interviews. The Free Press recently obtained a series of invoices written by Thielfoldt in his work as a paid advertising consultant to the campaign covering Sept 2019 and the first five months of 2020. In those monthly invoices, Thielfoldt lists dates of interviews he or others conducted with Rep Hagedorn on KTOE as well as interview blocks of time.

Media experts say the fact Thielfoldt listed Hagedorn’s appearances on KTOE as radio interviews in his invoices raises the possibility he may have violated Federal Communications Commission regulations, given that he never disclosed his relationship with Hagedorn on the air during interviews. “If this information were brought to the attention to the FCC enforcement bureau on its face, I think it would almost certainly trigger an inquiry,” said Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Senior Counselor Andrew Jay Schwartzman. Schwartzman points out Thielfoldt could still face penalties under the Communications Act for an indirect payment. Since Thielfoldt included interview times in his invoices, FCC regulators could argue he still ran afoul of federal rules if they find more information that doesn’t match his explanation.

Hagedorn, DJ deal could draw FCC inquiry