« June 2006 | Main | August 2006 »

July 29, 2006

Bachmann wallowing in extremist money, Part IV: at least $49,790 in contributions from anti-education group

Karl Bremer has done some great research, exposing that Michele Bachmann has accepted at least $49,790 in contributions from signers of the following pledge:

"I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education."

Eva Young writes:

Michele Bachmann told the Stillwater Gazette in an article published July 24 that public education is "my No. 1 issue." If this is the case, Bachmann should explain why she has taken nearly $50,000 in campaign contributions from individuals who have signed the following proclamation of the Alliance for the Separation of School and State:

"I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education."

The Alliance for the Separation of School and State is a leading national organization that advocates for an end to all public education. This isn't just reducing school funding, or getting the federal government out of education, or supporting school vouchers. This is ending all government involvement in education.

Eva points out that the $49790 includes only contributions of $100 or more. Bachmann could have received more money from smaller donors (these donations don't have to be disclosed.) The amount raised from these anti-education extremists amounts to over 10% of Bachmann's campaign receipts. Would that give these group 10% lobbying power over Bachmann? If elected, will Michele Bachmann spend 10% of her time and effort trying to eradicate the American public education system?

More questions on the Bachmann mailing

Since I posted about the Michele Bachmann mailing a few days back, I've learned more about both the claims made in the brochure, and the questionable ethics behind it. As previously stated, this flyer was paid for by the Bachmann Re-Election Committee, which is Michele Bachmann's state campaign committee. I speculated in the original piece that the reason this piece was paid for by the state committee was because the FEC does not allow candidates to transfer money from a state account to a federal one. Turns out I was right:

Federal law prohibits congressional candidates who are state officials from transferring campaign money from their local accounts to their federal accounts. When a candidate receives a contribution to a federal account and reimburses the contributor from a separate state account, it is akin to a transfer, the Federal Election Commission has said in an advisory opinion. [...]

Federal law allows state campaign committees to donate up to $1,000 to a federal race. [...]

In 1996, the FEC said in an advisory opinion that ... transfers of money between state and federal accounts [are] "impermissible."

It also appears to be illegal under state law:

Minn. Stat. §10A.27 Subd. 9(b). Contributions to and from other candidates. (b) A candidate's principal campaign committee must not accept a contribution from, or make a contribution to, a committee associated with a person who seeks nomination or election to the office of President, Senator, or Representative in Congress of the United States.

Thus, the runaround. Now, we come to the question of whether this "stealth" campaign literature is legal. From everything I've seen, it appears to be within the letter of the law. Although it is obviously intended to sway Bachmann's constituents to vote for her Congressional bid, state representatives are allowed to communicate with their constituents and count them as "non-campaign disbursements." One legal question would be, is Michele Bachmann still considered a state representative? She has retired from service and is not seeking re-election. Is she still allowed to make these "non-campaign disbursements"?

Possible answers to this question are contained in Minnesota Campaign Finance Board Advisory Opinion 313, which states that mailings to constituents are counted as "non-campaign disbursements," and cites the relevant Minnesota statute:

Subd. 10c. Noncampaign disbursement. "Noncampaign disbursement" means a purchase or payment of money or anything of value made, or an advance of credit incurred, by a political committee, political fund, or principal campaign committee for any of the following purposes: [...] (f) services for a constituent by a member of the legislature or a constitutional officer in the executive branch, performed from the beginning of the term of office to adjournment sine die of the legislature in the election year for the office held, and half the cost of services for a constituent by a member of the legislature or a constitutional officer in the executive branch performed from adjournment sine die to 60 days after adjournment sine die;

The legislature adjourned on May 21st, 2006. That means that this mailing is cutting it close-- depending on when it was mailed. My source received it on Monday, July 24th. The mailing does not contain a date or postmark, and was mailed from St. Paul. Given the recent problem with Keith Ellison's mailing that did not arrive until several days after the event it referred to had passed, it is possible, and even probable, that it was mailed within the 60-day mark. I am not very familiar with Minnesota campaign finance law, but it seems to me that it remains an open question how this mailing would legally work, with Michele Bachmann no longer a candidate for state office.

Another relevant statute would seem to allow this type of mailing for a candidate:

211B.12 Legal expenditures. Use of money collected for political purposes is prohibited unless the use is reasonably related to the conduct of election campaigns, or is a noncampaign disbursement as defined in section 10A.01, subdivision 10c. The following are permitted expenditures when made for political purposes: (1) salaries, wages, and fees; (2) communications, mailing, transportation, and travel; (3) campaign advertising; (4) printing; (5) office and other space and necessary equipment, furnishings, and incidental supplies; (6) charitable contributions of not more than $50 to any charity annually; and (7) other expenses, not included in clauses (1) to (6), that are reasonably related to the conduct of election campaigns. In addition, expenditures made for the purpose of providing information to constituents, whether or not related to the conduct of an election, are permitted expenses.

She's providing (slanted) information to constituents, but, as a retired state senator, is she still allowed to do so? I can find nothing on the question of retirement on the CFB website.

Over at a DB comment thread, MNCR observes that:

Technically, Bachmann still is a State Senator until January of next year, when her replacement is sworn in, so her State Senate office is still hers until then.

If anyone has any insight into this question, or any other possible opinions or statutes to look at, please let me know in the comments or by e-mail.

A second legal question is, would this mailing count as a merely informative service to the constituency, thus a "noncampaign disbursement," or would it count as a disbursement "on behalf of a candidate for federal office"? Minnesota Campaign Finance Board Advisory Opinion 323 states,

A principal campaign committee may not use its funds to make approved or independent expenditures on behalf of a candidate for federal office.

Would a Finance Board hearing determine this mailing to be truly "informational," coming as it does after the candidate has retired and is seeking election to a federal office? Or would it could as an expenditure on behalf of Bachmann's campaign for U.S. Congress, the election on which it is really meant to have an impact?

Eva Young over at DB has thoughtfully posted a nice full-color scan of the document, for those who dislike reading straight text.

July 28, 2006

John Edwards to campaign for Wetterling-- if you vote!

John Edwards, former VP candidate and former U.S. Senator from North Carolina, is holding a contest through his One America PAC. He will headline fundraisers for the top two votegetters in an online poll. You can vote for Patty through that link.

I volunteered for John Edwards in Waterloo, Iowa in 2004, before the critical Iowa caucuses. After seeing him speak a couple of times, I know that Edwards is a very good speaker. With his optimism and enthusiasm, he'd be a perfect person to campaign for Patty.

[Hat tip to Karl Bremer.]

Bachmann campaign in hot water with FEC?

When news of the Bachmann campaign's acquisition of an "all-star lineup" of GOP campaign veterans, Dump Bachmann did a little research into her new treasurer, Keith Davis, and a second campaign committee that was set up in Bachmann's name, called the Bachmann Victory Fund. Today, an AP article notifies us that Davis and his practice of setting up these "Victory Funds" is under scrutiny by the FCC:

Note to political candidates: The Federal Election Commission doesn't want fundraisers using your name in vain. Even if you're the one getting the cash.

At stake are joint political fundraisers, a common practice for politicians and their party organizations to cast a wider net for campaign dollars. To do that, they must register a joint fundraising committee with the FEC to account for their contributions and their spending. The word "victory" or something equally upbeat is usually in the committee name, so is the year of the election as in "Victory 2006."

To distinguish themselves from other "Victory 2006" committees, fundraisers have been attaching the candidate's name. Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., raised money through the "Chafee-Rhode Island Victory 2006." Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., relied on the "Santorum Victory Committee." Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, tapped the "Mike DeWine Victory 2006." And so on.

Not so fast, says the FEC. In letters to the Chafee, Santorum and DeWine joint fundraising committees and a handful of other candidate-related groups, the FEC warned that such eponymous organizations violate federal election regulations. The letters have been addressed to the same Republican campaign finance veteran, Keith Davis of Arlington, Va., the treasurer of more than 20 joint fundraising committees.

"We don't understand the FEC's argument," Davis said. "These are indeed committees that are authorized by the candidates. We have full confidence that they have the right to use the candidate's name."

Davis is hardly alone. The FEC has been demanding that joint fundraising committees eliminate candidates' names for some time, to no avail. Whenever the FEC cites one section of election law to make their case, treasurers for the committees respond by citing another section that upholds their argument. With no resolution, the committees ignore the admonitions.

Bachmann is not mentioned in the article, but two facts lead me to believe that the Bachmann is an FEC target: first, that Keith Davis is her treasurer; and second, that it is named the "Bachmann Victory Fund," fitting with the pattern of the other examples.

Watch local media coverage in the upcoming days to see if this gets any play. From that last paragraph quoted above, it seems like this might not be too big of a deal, but who knows?

July 27, 2006

Wetterling campaign kickstarts grassroots efforts

The latest post to the Patty Wetterling campaign blog alerts us to the fact that the campaign is starting its grassroots efforts in full force. It's never too early to get involved.

Patty has kicked off her campaign! 05:00 PM Jul 26, 2006

From Corey Day, Campaign Manager:

Patty has kicked-off her campaign’s grassroots effort. The campaign headquarters, located in Anoka, opened its doors last Wednesday to people interested in volunteering; two of the campaign’s other offices, in St. Cloud and Lake Elmo, held their first volunteer organizing meetings this week. Concerned citizens from the 6th District and beyond have already signed up to door-knock, make phone calls and write letters.

The Wetterling campaign is entering a new phase. Our offices are busier than ever taking calls from people who want to do whatever is needed to help send Patty to Washington.

Sign up to volunteer with this simple online form, or call 763-323-1803. Or, you can e-mail the campaign.

...What's that? You can't leave your house to volunteer because of crippling agoraphobia, but you just happen to have a sock full of cash lying around that you inherited from your (sadly deceased) crazy uncle? Why not donate it? (Actually, I'm sure you could make calls from your house if you can't leave it for some reason. Campaigns love all the help they can get.)

Wetterling campaign updates

Recent news on the Wetterling front:

*The campaign marched in the Stillwater Lumberjack Days parade with over 50 supporters; pictures are up on Wetterling's website.

I was at the parade (on Greeley, near Oak Street), but I didn't realize it would last so long. We left after two hours, still not having seen the Wetterling or Bachmann contingents. I guess I could post my pictures of Pawlenty's gang, or IP candidate John Binkowski, but... why?

*Patty Wetterling will receive fundraising help from Nancy Pelosi. The folks over at that other site are concerned lest the Democrats re-take the House and Pelosi becomes Majority Leader. Well, they'd better be concerned... a new study commissioned by NPR says that Dem candidates are up by an average of 6 points over the Republicans in the 50 most competitive House races. The Republicans won those seats by an average of 12% in 2004. The results were stable whether the pollsters used candidates' names or just their party labels:

We asked the question about a generic Democrat or Republican, then we plugged in the names of actual incumbents and challengers. The numbers didn't change much and the voters seemed pretty firm about their choices. Only 18 percent of those favoring a Democrat said there was any chance they'd change their minds. Only 16 percent of those favoring a Republican said they might switch.

PS: I dislike MDE, but his headline is priceless: "Woman Who Wasn't Familiar With Curly Fries to Campaign For Wetterling" If that's all the dirt he can dig up on Patty, then it's fine by me.

*I'm not sure why the folks at MPR think that the above news is more important than this next item... but I heard them repeat the Pelosi story at least 3 times today, while a piece on the Walsh crime bill signed today at the White House didn't mention Patty Wetterling at all. But she was there.

To conclude, I just can't resist a pinch of Bachmann news: was her campaign spying on protestors at the Karl Rove event?

July 25, 2006

Bachmann falsely claims to be a lawyer

This was lost in the weekend shuffle, but it is a bombshell. This seems to have the potential to get the Bachmann campaign into some very hot water.

Dump Bachmann blogger Eric Zaetsch has uncovered some shocking information: despite numerous claims made in e-mails and posts to her website, Michele Bachmann is not legally allowed to practice law in the state of Minnesota. As recently as July 19th, Bachmann represented herself as a lawyer:

Bachmann is a federal tax litigation attorney and is the state senator from Minnesota's Senate District 52.

Check out Eric's great, meaty post. It's long, but completely worth it... especially when you get to the end, and he's examining the prospect that this constitutes wire fraud, a federal offense:

Factually, I do not know how many emailings were made [with each recipient representing a separate mailing], for the above referenced item, or others, but I presume they all were emailed intending that they be believed, and those sent within the Sixth District presumably were intended to bear on and influence the outcome of an in-state election, for a federal office.

I would hope a mere hand-waving response from the Bachmann campaign would not be tolerated by those having enforcement jurisdiction; the attorney general and the county attorneys of each county in which the representation of current status was made.

Certainly the press should sieze the question, as they did in the case of candidate Entenza.

Now, the mailing I recently posted about does describe Bachmann as "a former tax litigation attorney." But, on at least two separate occasions (as Eric documents), her campaign materials omit the "former" qualifier.

Bachmann campaign mailing

Yesterday, a family member gave me a mailing she had recently received from Michele Bachmann. I don't have the capability at this point to scan and upload the document, and a google search failed to turn up an internet copy. (If anyone does have an electronic copy of the mailing, please contact me using the e-mail in the upper right.) I am thus reduced to copying the (thankfully brief) mailing by keyboard.

The mailing is paid for by the "Bachmann Re-Election Committee." A search of the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board's website revealed that this is Michele Bachmann's campaign committee for her State Senate runs. Even though she has retired from the Minnesota Senate, Bachmann's campaign committee is apparently still running. This committee's 2005 year-end report (available here) reports a balance of $37,518.47 on-hand at the end of 2005. Apparently this is the money that was used for the mailing-- I haven't checked the FEC rules, but I'm willing to bet that the Bachmann campaign is unable to transfer that state campaign money to her congressional campaign committee.

Here is the text of the mailing. If you know of any discrepancies or misleading claims, please post them in the comments, or email me. I've been trying to use the "Minnesota Votes" website to see how Michele actually voted on these bills, but it doesn't include information on the 2006 session. Here is a list of the bills that Bachmann has sponsored. If you know of an alternative source, please let me know.

Page 1 (Front Page):

State Senator Michele Bachmann
Legislative Report

Dear Friend,

I wanted to take this opportunity to tahnk you for allowing me to serve you in the State Legislatures. I am honored and humbled that you chose me to represent you and your family and I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am to have been your State Senator.

We have accomplished so much together in the past 6 years. We have boosted K-12 spending to record levels, while at the same time holding the line on taxes. We fought to defend traditional family values, and to put our transportation system back on track.

It has been a true pleasure to work for you and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to meet with and hear from many of you throughout my service in the Legislature. Thank you again for the honor of serving you.

Michele Bachmann
State Senator

Page 2:

Leader on Education Reform
Michele worked tirelessly to ensure that our children received a first class education. The following are Michele's academic accomplishments [?!] in the 2006 Legislative session:
*$800 million per-pupil funding increase, the largest boost in more than a decade
*New aid for preschool and early childhood programs
*Pay-for-performance programs to reward teachers for results linked to academic achievement.
*Raised high school math and science standards.
[Picture w/ caption: "Senator Bachmann showing students around the capitol."]

Taxpayer Advocate
As a former tax litigator, Michele has been dedicated to reforming our tax code. Michele worked to:
*Eliminate the marriage penalty.
*Provide relief for middle income earners from the Alternative Minimum Tax.
*Defeat more than $1 billion in new taxes on individuals and businesses.
*Authored legislation to eliminate the death tax.
[Picture w/ caption: "Bachmann fighting for lower taxes in the Senate"]

Standing Up for Our Veterans
Michele chief authored legislation to protect the Disabled Veterans Rest Camp on Big Marine Lake. The bill will preserve this rest camp for those who bravely served our nation. Her efforts kept the camp from closure due to eminent domain. She was honored by the veterans at a special Memorial Day service.
[Picture w/ caption: "Senator Bachmann at a committee hearing for the Disabled Veterans Rest Camp bill"]

Page 3:

Supporting Our Peace Officers
Michele has been dedicated to giving our law enforcement what they need to keep us safe. To honor the service of a fallen hero, Michele was the chief Senate author of legislation to dedicate a portion of I-35 to Shawn Silvera, a Lino Lakes police officer killed in the line of duty.

[Fake newspaper-style article]
Bachmann Retires from State Senate after 6 Years of Dedicated Service
State Senator Michele Bachmann will be stepping down from the State Senate seat she has held for the past 6 years. Bachmann leaves behind a record of accomplishing what she has promised her constituents, and never backing down from a challenge. Bachmann was proud to represent Senate District 52 and will miss all those who made her service at the capitol a success.

[Picture w/ caption: Bachmann thanked for her service by the Senate Leadership.]
"You allowed me to serve as your voice and advocate in St. Paul. I will never forget the high honor it has been to serve as your State Senator."
-Michele Bachmann.

Page 4: back cover

This page lists Michele's contact info, contains the title "State Senator Michele Bachmann Legislative Report" again, and contains the legal information about the flyer:

Prepared and paid for by the Bachmann Re-Election Committee, PO Box 608, Stillwater, MN 55082. Not printed at government expense.

Let's work together and take down some of the claims made in this mailing.

July 24, 2006

The new Tom DeLay raises ca$h for Bachmann

Via Bachmann v. Wetterling, we learn that Michele Bachmann was among the beneficiaries of a July 19th fundraiser held by House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), who took over Tom DeLay's old position when DeLay's many ethics violations and federal offenses caught up with him. The new dog still knows the old dog's tricks, though. A July 15th NYT article tells the story:

Representative John A. Boehner won the job of House majority leader amid a post-Abramoff clamor for an overhaul of lobbying and ethics rules. But nearly six months later, the changes are still tied up in Congress.

And far from trying to put the brakes on lobbyists and the money they channel into Republican coffers, Mr. Boehner, who has portrayed his ties to Washington lobbyists as something to be proud of, has stepped on the gas.

He has been holding fund-raisers at lobbyists’ offices, flying to political events on corporate planes and staying at a golf resort with a business group that has a direct stake in issues before Congress.

Tapping a rich vein of longstanding relationships with lobbyists and their corporate clients, Mr. Boehner, an Ohio Republican, has raised campaign contributions at a rate of about $10,000 a day since February, surpassing the pace set by former Representative Tom DeLay after he became majority leader in 2002, a review of federal filings shows.

The Times followed up on this article with an editorial (reprinted in the Pioneer Press today) attacking Boehner's lack of leadership on ethics issues:

The true talents of the new House majority leader, John Boehner, are becoming appallingly evident when it comes to the top item on Congress’s real agenda: the need to raise lots and lots of political money. Mr. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, is setting a fund-raising pace with powerful special-interest groups that already is challenging the achievements of his predecessor, Tom DeLay, the Texas Republican who quit Congress after he was indicted on charges of political money laundering.

Mr. DeLay made the symbiosis of lobbyist and lawmaker an unabashed money machine that scandalized Congress. Mr. Boehner took over with vows to reform Congress. But he’s busier beating Mr. DeLay’s game at extracting contributions from power lobbyists and their corporate clients. He’s averaged $10,000 a day since February, according to an article in The Times by Mike McIntire, with banks, health insurers and drug, oil and cigarette corporations among the biggest donors. As for golf junkets and other “educational? freebies, Mr. DeLay scored 18 trips financed by private interests since 2000; Mr. Boehner has racked up 39 in that time.

In one outing to a gathering of commodities traders at a Florida golf resort, Mr. Boehner assured his hosts that Congress was not likely to approve a tax on futures transactions. Mr. Boehner was doing nothing illicit with this insider schmoozing, not by the sorry rules of Congress. He is merely the latest example of the crass fact that money is the stuff of leadership in Washington.

It’s all too clear that nothing serious can come of the vows of Mr. Boehner and other Congressional leaders to rein in ethical lapses so long as members remain addicted to lobbyist-generated campaign money.

If elected to Congress, will Michele Bachmann attempt to reform the GOP Culture of Corruption? Holding a fundraiser with its new number one man is not a good sign. But hey, as long as it brings in the dough...

[UPDATE] The Hill has a new article on Boehner's fundraiser with Bachmann. Apparently it raised about $1 million for the "Retain Our Majority Program" (ROMP), which was founded by Tom DeLay himself. Assuming the cash is split equally among the 10 candidates (and I'm not sure how it works), that means Michele Bachmann stands to pull in $100,000 from Boehner and his cronies. If Bachmann is elected, she's going to owe some people some favors... and that's not good for democracy, or for Minnesota.

Here's the Hill's brief, not very helpful description of the race in the 6th:

Bachmann’s Democratic opponent, children’s advocate Patty Wetterling, was also recently added to the Red to Blue program. The two are running for the open seat left by senatorial candidate Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-Minn.). Bachmann faced a tough primary and trails in cash on hand by nearly $200,000.

Notice the apologia for Bachmann: she "faced a tough primary" and that's why she trails Wetterling. It couldn't be that she was outraised, could it?

July 23, 2006

Coverage of Bachmann's Rove event

Several blogs have covered the Bachmann campaign's fundraiser with Karl Rove, which took place Friday during the day (probably so that fewer people could show up to protest). As usual, Dump Bachmann has the best coverage, including some classic photos. Interestingly enough, only about 60 donors were willing to pony up the $250-$1,000 required to attend. News sources said that "several dozen" protestors were present. Depending on your interpretation of "several," that means protestors may have outnumbered the donors at this event.

DB also asks a relevant question: who paid for the security at this event? Check out the pictures and see if you agree with the police chief's statement:

Stillwater Police Chief Larry Dauffenbach was on the scene. When asked if Bachmann and Rove were paying for all the extra security around the Water Street Inn, he replied: "Security? There's no extra security down here," as at least five Stillwater police officers patrolled the block.

That is a classic quote. It reminds me of Vikings running back Mewelde Moore, speaking after the so-called "Love Boat" incident last year:

"Sex? What are you talking about, is that what? Man, what are you talking about? That's crazy. Sex?"

Check back for updates from the Stillwater Lumberjack Days parade. (Hopefully.)

Bachmann patrons privately profiting from public pesos

Dump Bachmann has been doing some great work on Michele Bachmann's connections to wealthy developers who support the use of eminent domain, accepting their big-dollar campaign contributions even while she protests against the practice on her website.

One of these wealthy contributors is David Frauenshuh, who (along with his wife) has given nearly $9,000 to Bachmann's campaign. A recent post at MN Publius linked to a post last year from Three Way News, which gives some background on Frauenshuh Companies' shady business deals with Norm Coleman and the city of St. Paul:

It looks like a major campaign contributor made $30 million in 5 years on a real estate deal involving Norm Coleman and rewarded him with $50,000 in campaign contributions.

This looks a lot like Duke Cunnigham in reverse. Duke -- not Richie's nearly mute lost brother, by the way -- sold his home above market value, then oversaw contracts that benefited the purchaser. Smilin' Norm, as mayor, sold commercial property below market value, then received large campaign contributions from the purchaser. Republicans violate ethics rules both coming and going.

Basically, the City of St. Paul paid over $100 million to build the Lawson Software building downtown, then sold the property to Frauenshuh Companies just three years later for $54.5 million. In 2005, Frauenshuh sold the property to a Dallas developer for a $30 million profit, and has been rewarding then-mayor, current U.S. Senator Norm Coleman with campaign contributions ever since.

Dump Bachmann also commented on this story when it broke, examining Bachmann's connections to Norm Coleman, pointing out Coleman's support for Bachmann in her first campaign for the state Senate and speculating on why she received a key endorsement from the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce:

I've always wondered why the St Paul Chamber of Commerce would endorse Bachmann in 2002, while the Greater Stillwater Chamber stayed out of the race. My guess: Norm Coleman helped with that one.

Can we expect the same type of antics (i.e., rewarding campaign contributors with sweetheart deals) from Bachmann if she is elected to Congress?

July 22, 2006

Local candidates dig Wetterling

Via MNCR, we learn that Patty Wetterling is one of the favorite local political figures of Jeff Rich, DFL candidate for the state House in district 41A. He's also the co-owner of the infamous Donkey Truck, one of the best campaign ideas I've seen. Here's what Jeff had to say in MNCR's interview:

MNCR: Who [...] is your favorite [...] Local Political Figure:
Paul: I really admire Sheldon Johnson, Steve Simon, Steve Kelley, Amy Klobuchar - a lot of really great leaders right now.
Jeff: Yeah, I really have to go with Steve Kelley, he’s soft-spoken, he stands up for what he knows is right, you just can’t NOT like the guy. I also have a ton of respect for Patty Wetterling - it was right around the time I came to Minnesota that her son was taken, and [the] way she’s devoted her life to the things she’s done is pretty amazing.

July 20, 2006

Spotted: Coleen Rowley (off-topic)

Driving my girlfriend to the Burnsville Transit Station this morning, I saw the "Agent for Change," Coleen Rowley, the former FBI agent and current Democratic candidate hoping to knock off John Kline in the 1st District, introducing herselves to voters and passing out literature. It was just her and her minivan, decked out with campaign signs. Also, it was 6:50 AM. I wanted to stay and help, even though it's not my district... stupid job. :(

Kline may have the advantage in cash, but Rowley is showing her dedication as a candidate. Democrats are energized across the state. We have a great chance to pick up a couple of House seats (Kennedy's and Gutknecht's, and hopefully Kline's), keep Dayton's Senate seat blue, win our statewide races (Gov, auditor, and AG), and wrest control of the Minnesota House. All in all, this is going to be a good year for Democrats.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming...

July 18, 2006

A new blog enters the fray

...sort of. Heeeeeeeere's "Better Than Bachmann!"

The author hasn't posted anything except a links section and a test post, but I like the blog's epigraph/intro statement (or whatever you want to call it):

There are plenty of sources on the Web that explain why Michele Bachmann is wrong for Minnesota and America, but they all gloss over one key point: Patty Wetterling is better than Bachmann, much better.

True that, son.

I hope that Chris, the author, posts again and injects himself/herself into the discussion. Until then, I will try to do less Bachmann-bashing and more Patty-boosting. Or, preferably, combine the two more effectively.

Bachmann accepts extremists' money, Part III: more anti-education sentiments from Bachmann donors

Michele Bachmann has accepted a total of $5,000 from the Eagle Forum PAC, a group that was founded by arch-conservative Phyllis Schlafly, who still serves as its president. She seems to hold some out-of-the-mainstream views on education:

“The teachers unions are more eager to expand job opportunities for the remedial reading bureaucracy, and for servicing the social problems caused by illiteracy, than they are in teaching the basics.? – website essay, “How to Make America Better?

“Abolishing the Department of Education was one of Ronald Reagan's campaign promises when he ran for President in 1980. Fulfilling that promise is long overdue, and the time to do it is now…The goal [in public schools] is clearly to infuse (i.e., cause to penetrate) the gay/lesbian propaganda into every level of school: every grade K through 12, every academic subject, and every school and social activity. “
-The Phyllis Schlafly Report, September 1995

...and another one...

"Many years ago Christian pioneers had to fight savage Indians. Today missionaries of these former cultures are being sent via the public schools to heathenize our children.? (Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum)

What do Sixth District teachers, students, and parents think of these radical views?

Side note: It seems that Michele Bachmann, with her outcast lesbian stepsister, shares that history with Mrs. Schlafly:

This mother of six and grandmother of 14 was mortified when her son John was outed by gay activist Michelangelo Signorile in 1992. As outspoken as she is on the topic of homosexuality, she refuses to talk about John. When Signorile asked her at the ‘96 Republican Convention how she could both love her son and support a hideously anti-gay national platform, [Schlafly] responded: "Go! Shoo! I’m not putting up with this, I’m just not! Why can’t you people just leave me alone?? – a hypocritical plea for privacy from a woman who devoted her career to telling others how to live their lives.

Bachmann accepts extremists' money, Part II: Does Michele Bachmann support the trophy hunting of endangered animals?

Wow, this is too easy. Like shooting fish in a barrel. Or going "canned hunting" like Dick Cheney and John Cornyn (R-TX) did a couple of years back, shooting nearly 500 domesticated quail in a matter of minutes. Yes, folks, it's that easy to find extremist sentiments behind Michele Bachmann's campaign contributions.

In her most recent FEC filing, we find a $2000.00 donation to Bachmann from the Safari Club International PAC, received on June 14th. What does this organization support? It's described in this article as "a big-game hunting club that pays huge fees to hunt exotic animals around the globe." What does that mean? Among other things, the hunting of endangered animals, which this editorial from HSUS decries:

The administration's most outrageous proposal is its plan to allow trophy hunters to shoot endangered species in other countries and import the trophies and hides into the United States. The administration first floated the proposal a few months ago, with formal proposals subsequently published in the Federal Register, and President Bush is expected to make a final decision soon on the plan, which originated with his U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

For 30 years, the Endangered Species Act has provided critical protections for species near extinction in the United States. The act also protects species in foreign nations, by barring pet traders, circuses, trophy hunters, and others from importing live or dead endangered species. While we can't prevent the shooting or capture of endangered species overseas, we can prevent imports—thus eliminating the incentive for American hunters and others to shoot or trap the animals in the first place.

But with this plan the administration is seeking to punch gaping holes in the prohibitions, under the assumption that generating revenue through the sale of hunting licenses will aid on-the-ground conservation in foreign lands.

The plan is transparent on its face. It's not aimed to help species, but to aid special interests who want to profit from the exploitation of wildlife. No group is more centrally involved in this miserable plan than Safari Club International, the world's leading trophy hunting organization and an entity with close ties to the Bush Administration.

The 40,000 member organization of rich trophy collectors has doled out close to $600,000 in campaign contributions among GOP candidates in the past six years. President Bush appointed a former top lobbyist of the Safari Club to be the deputy director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—again, the very agency promoting the plan to allow the selling off of endangered species to private interests.

This reminds me of the LTE written a while back claiming that Michele Bachmann supports hunters. Really? Do Sixth District hunters really support the killing of endangered species in the developing world by a bunch of thrill-seeking fat cats? Somehow, I just don't think so.

Does Michele Bachmann support the Safari Club's extremist agenda?

Bachmann accepts extremists' money

Nice catch by Karl Bremer over at Dump Bachmann: does Michele Bachmann favor "ending government involvement in education"? Apparently one of her extremist out-of-state contributors does-- and he and his wife have given $13,400 to Michele Bachmann's campaign.

Karl asks all the right questions:

Is abolishing ALL public education in the mainstream of political thought these days? Is that what Minnesotans in the 6th Congressional Districts believe? Are they ready to send someone to Congress to work to abolish public education? That sounds like the position of an extremist to me, but watch the Republicans and their editorial mouthpieces like Westover howl when Bachmann is called an extremist.

Why aren't reporters asking these questions of Bachmann? Why aren't reporters digging into the backgrounds of all the wealthy out-of-state and out-of-district contributors to Bachmann's campaign--both in her regular campaign fund and the latest rump group formed to funnel big bucks into her campaign under the radar. Don't they think voters would want to know why people like the Conners, or William Hawks, who advocates using eminent domain to take public property, are shoveling money into Bachmann's campaign coffers? Why do they have to come to DumpBachmann.com to hear about this stuff?

You know what they say: "birds of a feather flock together."

Dump Bachmann also reports on the second Bachmann campaign committee, called the "Bachmann Victory Committee," and some of its donors.

When I have more time, I'll be looking into Bachmann's most recent FEC filing and seeing what other skeletons lurk in the closet...

July 15, 2006

On Veterans' Issues: Wetterling or Bachmann?

IQ test, question #1: can you spot a pattern in these numbers?

* Rep. Jim Oberstar (DFL): 100
* Rep. Betty McCollum (DFL): 100
* Rep. Martin Sabo (DFL): 100
* Sen. Mark Dayton (DFL): 92
* Rep. Collin Peterson (DFL): 60
* Sen. Norm Coleman (GOP): 50
* Rep. Gil Gutknecht (GOP): 20
* Rep. Jim Ramstad (GOP): 20
* Rep. Mark Kennedy (GOP): 20
* Rep. John Kline (GOP): 0

Those would be the % ratings of the Minnesota delegation on veterans' issues for the year 2005, as assigned by the non-partisan Disabled American Veterans. The ratings are based on the general principle that "this nation’s first duty to veterans is the rehabilitation and welfare of its wartime disabled" -- the organization's overarching mission statement. (You can read about more of their policy concerns here.)

So, back to the IQ test-- do I need to spell it out for you? Obviously, judging from this list (as well as the national ratings), the party with the best record is the Democrats. Where would Michele Bachmann fit on this list? Would she follow her Republican brethren (and they are overwhelmingly brethren) in voting against the interests of American veterans? Or would she break the trend?

We know where Patty Wetterling stands on these issues:

We must do better for those who serve. If we can spend billions of dollars to rebuild Iraq, we can find the money to protect the lives and livelihoods of the Americans we send to do it: they should never have to worry about losing their pay, their health insurance, or their homes.

As long as American lives are at risk, Congress must do everything it can to support our armed forces and see that our soldiers have the equipment and supplies that they need to do their jobs.

...and, specifically, on disabled veterans' issues:

Disabled veterans have sacrificed greatly for this country and we owe them a debt that we can never hope to repay, yet current law is shortchanging them. Disabled military veterans must be allowed to receive their full retirement benefits and I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to see that that inequity is corrected.

CA$H pt. 2: Wetterling cleans up in the Q2 money race

On the heels of the recent announcement that Patty Wetterling will be receiving help from the DCCC as part of its "Red to Blue" program comes more great news: Wetterling has doubled Michele Bachmann's fundraising in the second quarter of 2006. Yes, doubled. That is an amazing fact when you consider Bachmann's high-profile recent fundraisers with Dick Cheney and Dennis Hastert. If those didn't work, I can't imagine her upcoming event with Karl Rove in downtown Stillwater (anyone protesting this one, btw?) will raise too much more. Brian Melendez puts it well in the DFL's press release (included in the MNCR post linked above):

“Anyone who knows both women won’t be surprised that Patty Wetterling has double the support that Michele Bachmann has,? Minnesota DFL Chair Brian Melendez said. “The big surprise is how little support Michele really has in the sixth district. Half of her campaign chest comes from political-action committees. And much of the remaining $150,000 was raised largely from high-dollar fundraisers thrown by her Bush-administration friends, Dick Cheney and Dennis Hastert. No wonder she needs to fly Karl Rove in from Washington next week. Minnesotans aren’t investing in her divisive and angry campaign.?

Here are the hard numbers:

Wetterling's campaign reported raising $618,000 from April through the end of June, while Bachmann said she collected $310,000. Wetterling has $562,000 in the bank, compared with $383,000 for Bachmann.

That nearly 200,000 dollar difference in cash-on-hand is the big difference here. That extra 200 grand is going to enable the Wetterling folks to do just that much more, which could be the difference in what will likely be a very tight race. (Speaking of that... when's the next poll coming out? We haven't seen a poll in a very long time... not since Tinklenberg was still in the race, and Bachmann was still seeking the endorsement. Or at least I'm not aware of any recent polls.)

Other fundraising-related commentary:

*Dump Bachmann comments on the surprisingly small sum that Dennis Hastert's visit raised for Bachmann-- just $10,000. Still a sizeable sum, but he is the Speaker of the House. They also ask: is the Minnesota Republican delegation (Coleman, Kennedy, Gutknecht, Kline, and Ramstad) afraid to raise money for Bachmann in Minnesota? They're holding a fundraiser July 20th at a classy club in Washington. Are they afraid that hosting the fundraiser here will tie their campaigns to Bachmann's extremist agenda? As far as I'm concerned, all this means is more out-of-state and PAC money trickling in for Bachmann-- proving Brian Melendez' point that "Minnesotans aren't investing in her divisive and angry campaign."

Once again, congrats to Patty and the entire Wetterling campaign staff on this phenomenal achievement.

July 13, 2006

Wetterling gets DCCC ca$h

Some good news for the Wetterling campaign, which should help offset the moolah raised by Michele Bachmann's trifecta of recent & upcoming fundraisers (Cheney, Hastert, Rove):

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) on Thursday expanded its program to focus attention on Democratic House contenders who are seeking to take over Republican-held seats.

The committee newly identified 13 House candidates as waging competitive campaigns and deserving of additional political and financial support from the party leading up to the November elections.

These additions were the latest installment of the 2006 “Red to Blue? program established in February by the DCCC, which is trying to orchestrate the net gain of at least 15 seats needed to erase the Republicans’ current House majority. The program takes its name from the now-familiar color-coded partisan maps, as the DCCC is trying to turn Republican-held “red? districts to Democratic-controlled “blue? districts.

This is a good boost for the campaign as we get closer to the point where people other than us die-hards on the 'nets start to care. It should help spread Patty's positive message and help counter the Republican attack machine.

Going negative

A local conservative blogger gets word of a Patty Wetterling child-safety event tomorrow and proceeds to call Patty a "whore" and a "pimp":

I hate people that whore their tragedies. Kid gets killed and you have to camp out at the President's vacation grounds. Mom dies of cancer and you have to go on a crusade against tobacco companies. [...]

I personally feel there are more things that should be looked at with more scrutiny when assessing the person's character...namely a character that would pimp one's tragedy or use the tragedy of others for one's own political gain.

Cashing in on your celebrity is another thing. An example of this is how Coleen Rowley uses her position in the FBI and her created celebrity as a "whistleblower" to draw attention to her campaign. (Details at the link above.) Basically making appearances under the guise of being "not a part of" one's campaign during a campaign. Typical politicians do it all of the time (and that does not make it right or palatable) when they show up at places as the Representative so it is not campaigning even though they are running for a different office.

To me the level of depravity by the person is directly correlated to the importance of the cause to remain non-political. Do it for a Save the Humpback Beatle awareness seminar and it is bad but not bordering unethical. Do it for a Save the Children from Incest Session and it is bordering on reprehensible.

Now enter Patty Wetterling.

Patty Wetterling to Host Session on Child Internet Safety

ANOKA, MINN. - Patty Wetterling will lead a one-hour information and discussion session on child internet safety at Northtown Library in Blaine on tomorrow, July 14. The public is welcome to attend. Wetterling will suggest ways to keep children safe while using the internet, and will provide an update on internet safety legislation. Detective Jeff Rokeh from the Anoka County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigation Division will also be present. Wetterling and Detective Rokeh will invite attendees to ask questions and participate in a discussion.

This is politicizing an issue that should not be politicized. Worse than that is Wetterling is not even willing to admit this to be a campaign event which means that the effort is to deceive the public. [...]

Wetterling is preying on the fact that Joe Q Public will go, "Hmm, this is not a campaign event and it is an important issue. That Patty is willing to sacrifice her campaign to help this important cause."

Legal? Yes.
Commonplace? Too much so...in fact this particular race will see this done to the nth degree because both candidates have very little regard for anyone but their own career and both candidates have very little, if any, decency or honor.
Should we accept it? Hell no.

Patty is politicizing an issue that should be left unpartisaned (check the OED for that one please). The result may be a short term bump for her ("oh, she REALLY cares about children"). The long term result is that this issue will get less attention that it deserves because once politicians have an issue they rarely can help the issue.

Patty...the best thing for you to do is cancel this event so that it can be an American issue instead of a political one.

Hmm. Well, he does have a point... important issues such as child internet safety should really be nonpartisan. But the post implies, using extremely insulting language and rhetoric, that this is an issue that Patty has recently discovered and hopes to use to further her own career. This is just patently false. Patty Wetterling has spent a substantial portion of her life since her son Jacob was abducted dedicating herself to the safety of children and families. Is this blogger suggesting that Patty Wetterling has spent the last 17 years as a tireless advocate for children solely in order to get herself elected to Congress? That is just tasteless and ignores all the facts.

Patty decides to hold a talk on internet safety for children. Well, she's running for office, so of course it's political. It's also practical and useful, as evidenced by the Anoka County Detective who will be present. This isn't just some George Bush-style "look at me with the Katrina victims, see, I do care" photo op. Patty Wetterling has spent three presidential administrations learning about this stuff, lobbying Congress, and advocating for children. She's an expert. So to accuse her of being a "pimp" and a "whore," to say that she is "deceiving the public," and to say that is just plain despicable.

(Of course, I should note that the person making these accusations isn't one of the foaming-at-the-mouth Bachmann addicts. He's no fan of Michele Bachmann, either.)

July 10, 2006

Parade of Drones, part 1

As you can see, I'm back from my trip. :) Canada was great, but it's nice to be back in the good ol' U.S. of A.

Anyway, it's parade season, and I'm concerned about the image and conduct of the Bachmann campaign in these parades. Today, Dump Bachmann alerts us to this letter in the St. Cloud Times, which has been a good source of CD6 news and LTEs recently. These are disturbing allegations about the conduct of the Bachmann campaign and its supporters:

Letter: Bachmann’s conduct at parade was inappropriate Published: July 10. 2006 12:30AM

In the recent Avon parade, congressional candidate Michele Bachmann and her crew walked like a phalanx along both curbs of candidate Patty Wetterling’s group.

Bachmann and one or two of her crew crossed through the Wetterling group to alternate sides of the street and shook hands with the crowd. ...

I learned later that their entry previously had finished the parade.

At least one of Bachmann’s staff people yelled at the crowd to shake hands with their next congresswoman, while others were yelling her name and/or carrying her signs.

I told one of her self-identified staff that I thought this conduct was inappropriate and probably violated the usual parade rules, or at least etiquette.

This person talked to Bachmann, returned to me and said in a very belligerent tone, “Michele said sue us!?

To me, Michele Bachmann and her crew’s conduct indicates a character flaw that I do not want to have in my next congresswoman.

I have been a parade participant in the St. Cloud area for more than 20 years with both political and charitable/community groups. I have never seen such poor conduct.

Ed Lalor

St. Cloud

These are the disturbing strong-arm tactics of a group who believes that their agenda trumps basic ettiquette and the rights of an opposing viewpoint to be heard. It seems more suited to a different time and place, not here, today, in Minnesota-- perhaps the 50's and 60's in the South, where hate-filled mobs intimidated civil rights protestors, or in modern Russia, where groups of thugs loyal to Vladimir Putin strike fear into the opposition. If these are the acts of a few overenthusiastic "bad apples" in the Bachmann campaign, Michele Bachmann must repudiate these tactics at once. But the letter seems to imply that Bachmann embraced these actions, participated in them herself, and, rather than apologize when confronted, defended herself by telling opponents to "sue us."

Is this the type of behavior that citizens of the Sixth District expect from their next congressperson?

An upcoming post will explore what we can learn about Michele Bachmann from her parade-related activities.