As recently as April 21, the Marshall Independent fretted that it was Time for candidates to step forward in the contest to replace moderate Republican State Senator Dennis Frederickson, who retires at the end of the session after 30 years in the legislature.
Neither a Republican nor a DFLer had stepped forward.
Two candidates have now presented themselves. The first is conservative Republican Redwood Falls businessman Gary Dahms, whose bio reads as if it stepped of a Sinclair Lewis novel. The other? Dental hygienist and anti-immigrant activist Ruthie Hendrycks of Hanska.
While Dahms announced his bid in the Marshall Independent, the Sleepy Eye Dispatch, and the Redwood Falls Gazette, Hendrycks went full Palin and announced her intentions on Fox News. In From Minnesota to Georgia, Politicians Lend Support to Arizona Immigration Law, the fair and balanced cable network reports:
If it's good enough for the desert, it's good enough for 10,000 lakes. That's what a group in Minnesota is saying as it calls for an Arizona-style crackdown on immigration in the North Star State. . . .
. . .Ruthie Hendrycks, president and founder of Minnesotans Seeking Immigration Reform, says Arizona's new immigration law should be mirrored in Minnesota, where roughly 125,000 illegal immigrants lived as of 2007, according to some estimates.
"This issue of illegal immigration and addressing it is long overdue," Hendrycks told FoxNews.com. "The situation is out of control, and until the federal government steps up to the plate to enforce our laws, the states have no other choice than to enforce federal law through state law."
Hendrycks, a Republican who will announce her candidacy for state Senate later this week, said she plans to contact Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty regarding her proposal. Hendrycks anticipates widespread support among the state's residents.The passing of an immigration reform bill, SB1070, has received a mixed reaction among politicians and residents in Arizona.
"Although there are voices on both sides of the issue, Minnesotans are not blind to what's happening across the nation and how it is affecting them on a state level," she said. "I believe that the majority of Minnesotans understand the issue and would be in favor of enforcing our laws." . . .
Loyal readers will recognize Hendrycks as one of the organizers of last November's Tea Party Against Amnesty at the state capital in St. Paul, an event that drew about 65 supporters and nearly 40 protesters.
The gathering would be long forgotten had it not marked the public debut of immigration activist Robert Erickson, whose speech to the crowd went viral on Youtube. The long version, which features vintage Hendrycks:
She makes some wonderful contributions to public discourse throughout the clip.
Hendrycks has made two earlier attempts at public office. As Sue Jeffers' running mate in a 2006 primary challenge to Governor Pawlenty, she received 11.13 percent of the vote on the Republican ballot. In 2008, she sought the GOP endorsement for the open house seat in HD21B, and collected a mere handful of votes.
In 2008, Bluestem looked into her degree from LaCrosse Unversity, a diploma mill so disreputable that it was de-certified by both Louisiana and Mississippi. Not long after, I looked at the legal status of MinnSIR, which appears to simply be an assumed name under which Hendrycks does business.The group is not a nonprofit nor does it issue annual report. Membership figures are unknown.
Fox News cites her as a credible source and candidate. Draw your own conclusions.
Photo: Ruthie Hendrycks, trying for the Palin glam shot.
In the Strib's Hot Dish Politics, Kevin Diaz reports:
In the polar-opposites world of the U.S. Congress, there aren’t many 232-15 votes [sic] But when it comes to congressional pay raises amid hard times in the hinterlands, the majority of Democrats and all Republicans were more than ready to say thanks but no thanks [to a pay raise]. . . .
...Most senators and House members make about $174,000 a year, though leaders make much more. The last time Congress opted to take the raise was in 2008.
Actually, one Minnesota congressman has refused to take automatic raises--and returns earlier raises to the Treasury each year: Tim Walz. I checked with Congressman Walz's district director Meredith Salsbury to see if Walz was still refusing his raises.
She noted nothing had changed. Walz makes about $165,000, as Bluestem first reported in January 2008. I smiled at a passage at the end of that post:
We'd also like to remind readers that State Rep. Randy Demmer--who touts his own fiscal conservatism --took per diems for the two days in May when he was absent from doing the people's business in St. Paul while attending National Republican Congressional Committee Candidate school. (Demmer told the Rochester Post Bulletin that he only missed a few unimportant votes, but DJ dismantled that claim).
Update: A friend wonders why the Strib only includes the
Democratic votes in the item below, when the vote was actually 402-15,
as anyone clicking through the link to the roll call would learn.
Perhaps that's one of those mysteries writers learn at fine j-schools. I dare not say more , since any speculation about the competence of the crack reporters at the Strib would only fuel rumors that I totally lack professional courtesy.
Either that, or the Strib finally revealed a pro-Democratic bias. [end update].
I'm still playing catch-up from four days in Duluth and Minneapolis, but think this press release about a study of rural freight is important. The call for the report was included in the latest Farm Bill.
From Congressman Walz's office:
USDA/US DOT RELEASE WALZ TRANSPORTATION STUDY
Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Transportation released a report to study freight transportation issues facing rural America. The study focused on freight rail, particularly as it relates to the movement of agricultural inputs and commodities, renewable fuels, and coal. The study was mandated by a Walz amendment to the 2008 Farm Bill.
“The transportation of agricultural products is critical to our rural economy,” said Walz. “This study provides Congress the most up-to-date data and information about transportation challenges we face in rural America. I am pleased that this study will allow us to make informed decisions about policies that lead to more efficient transportation of commodities and goods in the future, particularly as Congress prepares to take up the Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill.”
The Study of Rural Transportation Issues, conducted jointly by USDA and the Department of Transportation, examined the effect of deregulation on the rail industry, the reasonableness of rates and the reliability of service, how better policies can improve the flow of freight through all modes of transportation and whether the federal grievance process for shippers is too cumbersome to be effective.
This study reaffirmed that freight rail is a critical mode of transportation for rural America. It also confirmed that decreased competition in the rail industry has led to increased rates for shippers and ultimately, consumers who are buying groceries or paying their electricity bills.
To read the study, please click here.
Last week, The Hill published an op-ed by Rep. Walz that called for open and free competition in the rail industry, while acknowledging the important role the rail industry plays in shipping goods throughout the United States. To read that op-ed, please click here.
Image: A 1880s classic cartoon depicting William Henry Vanderbilt as a bandit. Vanderbilt, who famously said, "The public be damned" was the richest man in the world at the time of his death in 1885. Populist movements such as the Grange were spurred by farmers' concerns over freight shipping rates.
Decades of struggle by workers and their unions have resulted in significant improvements in working conditions. But the toll of workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths remains enormous. Each year, thousands of workers are killed and millions more are injured or diseased because of their jobs. The unions of the AFL-CIO remember these workers on April 28, Workers Memorial Day.
The first Workers Memorial Day was observed in 1989. April 28 was chosen because it is the anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the day of a similar remembrance in Canada. Every year, people in hundreds of communities and at worksites recognize workers who have been killed or injured on the job. Trade unionists around the world now mark April 28 as an International Day of Mourning.
Please join us for our annual commemoration of Workers Memorial in Rochester, MN.
Speakers include MNDOT Commissioner Tom Sorel, Congressman Walz's Office, and Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede among others.
Date: Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
Time: Refreshments begin at 8:30 am; Program at 9:00 am
Place: MN DOT District 6 Offices, 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester, MN 55901
Please drive around the back of the offices to the Cold Storage Area
Read more about Workers Memorial Day at Workday Minnesota. Other events around the state from the article:
Superior, Wis., Federation of Labor tree planting and observance
9 a.m. – Bear Creek Park, Highways 2 and 53 and Moccasin Mike Road, Superior
Minneapolis and St. Paul Building & Construction Trades Councils observance
Noon - United Hospital Project Site, downtown St. Paul
AFSCME and MnDOT observance
2 p.m. - Cedar Truck Station, 1900 E. 66th St., Richfield
West Area Labor Council observance, featuring singer Ron Franz and speakers
5 p.m. - Bringewatt Park, 2205 - 24th Ave. So., Grand Forks, N.D.
Southern Dakota County Labor Assembly and St. Paul Regional Labor Federation observance
7 p.m. - Lebanon Cemetery, 6442 - 140th St. W., Apple Valley
Panel discussion on current safety and health issues
7 p.m. - St. Paul Labor Centre, 411 Main St., St. Paul
Featuring Francisco Altamirano, Painters District Council 82; Lisa Brosseau, University of Minnesota School of Public Health; and Belinda Thielen, United Food & Commercial Workers.
Sponsored by the University of Minnesota Labor Education Service and co-sponsored by the Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Image: Poster from a collection of international images at Hazards.
At Civic Eats, Paula Crossfield writes in A New Vision for the 2012 Farm Bill:
This week, the House Agriculture Committee held the first hearing on the 2012 Farm Bill, the main piece of legislation that every five years establishes our nations food and agriculture policy. The Farm Bill affects farm payments, supplemental nutrition assistance programs (SNAP, formally called food stamps), international trade, conservation programs, the opportunities in rural communities, agriculture research, food safety, and more. Currently 70% of farm payments go to the wealthiest 10% of producers of corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton and rice. These kinds of oversights are the result of a Farm Bill that has been largely cobbled together over time.
But it seems the agriculture committee is gearing up for a more serious overhaul this time around. Peterson said that he called the Farm Bill hearing Wednesday in order to get a head start on the process, saying “I think it will be very difficult to pass a status-quo farm bill in 2012.” As the Environmental Working Group pointed out, Peterson has said that all options will be “on the table” for the planning of this Farm Bill.
Crossfield notes Congressman Walz's work on beginning farmers in the last bill:
"We had several first-year Congress members step up and champion issues like beginning farmers and organic agriculture, folks such as Rep Tim Walz (D-MN) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY),” who was a Representative when the 2008 Farm Bill was written.
In the meantime, the Ag Committee is looking at other issues; yesterday, it conducted hearings on "proposals to establish exchanges trading '"movie futures.'"
Photo: House Agriculture Chair Collin Peterson (right).
I'll be heading up to Duluth early this afternoon, where Bluestem will be assisted by freelance photographer and reporter Ted Fiskevold in covering the side action.Thanks for stopping by and congratulations to Margaret!!
The Byberg congressional committee report is finally posted at the FEC, and it looks like the Norwegian Nightingale is willing to self-fund his campaign against Collin Peterson, but hadn't spent much money yet in the race.
Agribusiness CEO Lee Byberg took in $35,404.50 of other people's money--mostly business professionals in the Willmar area--and loaned his campaign $55,000, for a total of $90,404.50. The Byberg campaign started the new quarter with $79,635.87 cash on hand, having spent just over ten grand.
While the lion's share of the money is self-funded, it's a significant jump in the level of fundraising for a Republican challenger in the Seventh. In 2006, endorsed candidate Michael Barrett raised just a hair under $41,000 for the entire cycle, while Glen Menze collected a mere $13,381 in the 2007-2008 cycle.
Byberg has increasing spend in the second quarter, acquiring a campaign bus the CD7 GOP field worker tweeted was "Freakin' sweet." The bus is touring the 7th and will make a stop at the state Republican Convention at the end of the month.
While the Forum papers' coverage compares the Byberg bus (mock-up from the candidate's Facebook album above), the original (right) was a different thing entirely.
Peterson, chair of the House Ag Committee, took in $117,742.00 in receipts, spent $62,323.77, and started the new quarter with $675,969.60.
However, the incumbent took in less money in individual contributions than Byberg during the first quarter, gathering only $19942.00 for the first quarter from individuals (though Peterson has collected $129,039.48 during the cycle). Peterson collected $97,800 in PAC money, largely from farmer cooperatives and agribusiness, for a total of $519,800.00 in the cycle.
Peterson will probably need to step up his campaigning this year, but the popular Blue Dog congressman is likely to be re-elected.
The Byberg report:
DETAILED SUMMARY PAGE Of Receipts And Disbursements for Q1 2010
|11. Contributions (other than loans) From:|
|(a) Individuals/Persons Other than Political Committees|
|(iii) Total Of Contributions From Individuals||35404.50||35404.50||0.00|
|(b) Political Party Commitees||0.00||0.00||0.00|
|(c) Other Political Committees (such as PACS)||0.00||0.00||0.00|
|(d) The Candidate||0.00||0.00||0.00|
|(e) Total Contributions (11(a)(iii) + (b) + (c))||35404.50||35404.50||0.00|
|12. Transfers From Other Authorized Committees||0.00||0.00||0.00|
|(a) Made Or Guaranteed By The Candidate||55000.00||55000.00||0.00|
|(b) All Other Loans||0.00||0.00||0.00|
|(c) Total Loans ((a) + (b))||55000.00||55000.00||0.00|
|14. Offsets to Operating Expenditures (Refunds, Rebates, etc)||0.00||0.00||0.00|
|15. Other Receipts||0.00||0.00||0.00|
|16. Total Receipts (11(e) + 12 + 13(c) + 14 + 15)||90404.50||90404.50||0.00|
|17. Operating Expenditures||10488.63||10488.63||0.00|
|18. Transfers to Other Authorized Committees||280.00||280.00||0.00|
|19. Loan Repayments:|
|(a) Of Loans Made or Guaranteed by the Candidate||0.00||0.00||0.00|
|(b) Of All Other Loans||0.00||0.00||0.00|
|(c) Total Loan Repayments ((a) + (b))||0.00||0.00||0.00|
|20. Refunds of Contributions To:|
|(a) Individuals/Persons Other Than Political Committees||0.00||0.00||0.00|
|(b) Political Party Committees||0.00||0.00||0.00|
|(c) Other Political Committees (such as PACs)||0.00||0.00||0.00|
|(d) Total Contribution Refunds (28(a) + (b) + (c))||0.00||0.00||0.00|
|21. Other Disbursements||0.00||0.00||0.00|
|22. Total Disbursements (17 + 18 + 19(c) + 20(d) + 21)||10768.63||10768.63||0.00|
|III. CASH SUMMARY|
|23. Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period||0.00|
|24. Total Receipts This Period (line 16)||90404.50||90404.50||0.00|
|25. Subtotal (23 + 24)||90404.50|
|26. Total Disbursements This Period (line 22)||10768.63||10768.63||0.00|
|27. Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period (25 - 26)||79635.87|
Images: A mockup of the "Twice American Express" from the Byberg for Congress Website (above); the Wellstone campaign bus at GAC Homecoming in 2002.
I was doing research early this morning on gun rights, hunting issues and Minnesota's congressional delegation. As is sometimes the case, serendipity took over and I stumbled on something that piqued my interest when the search terms "John Kline" and "safari" were plugged in. "Safari" was related to a big game hunters' organization that lobbies Congress, but what I scoped out was not the game I expected.
Instead, up popped a 2009 reference by "John Kline" for legendary African guide Jan Oelofse's Hunting Safaris in Namibia. The email below the reference included the name Vicky. Could it be? Googling the email address lead me to a scholarship program deadline for the Daughters of the American Revolution, with Vicky S. Kline, Minnesota State DAR Scholarship Chairman, listed at a Lakeville address.
Indeed, the Kline home.
Well, cool--the Klines went on a safari in Africa. Since I support gun rights and responsible game management (which includes hunting), I had a momentary pang of envy--the resort and surrounding country in Southwestern Africa would be an adventure of a lifetime.
But part of being a researcher is having a bit of curiosity, and so I could help but wonder when Congressman Kline and his spouse went on the trip. After all, Kline spent the February work break in his district, 2009 Easter-ish break on an official delegation to Israel, Pakistan and Turkey; the time near Memorial Day was devoted to honoring the American cemetery in Normandy and another official trip, and the Congressman's Facebook page has him posting from August 17 on during the August recess. One of his constituents, D.J. Daniels, posted on Bluestem about chance meeting with Kline on August 18.
So far as I could tell from looking at such online sources and in Nexis, the only hole in Congressman Kline's schedule as discernible from his newsletter (and gap on his Facebook postings) was between the end of July and August 17. Was that when Kline was in Africa on vacation?
Curious, since Danielson and others were in Kline's office trying to get him to hold a real life Town Hall meeting, as Collin Peterson and Tim Walz had elected to do at the urging of their constituents. Walz had, in fact, asked Kline to join him in a meeting in the First CD, and then Walz would return the favor. Kline's office declined.
Back in August, the Plumline noted that Kline wrote that he wanted to listen to his own constituents:
GOP Rep. Kline didn’t see the idea’s appeal. He wrote back to Walz yesterday saying No Dice. The reason? He wants to spend all his time listening to his own constituents, not Walz’s.
“Because it is critical for me to hear from the men and women I represent, I will be focusing my time and attention over this district work period on hearing from my constituents and will be unable to attend your meeting,” Kline wrote.
The kicker: Dems point out that Kline, as of now, has no scheduled town hall events in his own district, either.
While Peterson and Walz met with their constituents at Farmfest and other venues, was Kline on vacation in Africa? Or did the trip take place at another time of the year?
Can anyone present or find documented evidence that Kline was in his district during the first two weeks of August?
The Sioux Falls man who lost his job as a railroad boss to a corporate merger is locked in a bitter dispute over his severance package.
A lawsuit filed by the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad against former CEO Kevin Schieffer puts a sour ending on a business relationship that turned around a failing company and almost produced the largest railroad expansion in 100 years.
Schieffer left the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad in October 2008 after Canadian Pacific bought the company for more than $1.5 billion. He wanted to lay track into Wyoming to haul coal east from the Powder River Basin. Instead, Schieffer is at least the second employee to contest his compensation after the takeover by the Canadian company was completed in September. . . .
Read the whole article at the Argus. A friend who has followed the issue since 2006 tells me there's more to the story. Will the struggle between Mayo Clinic and the Rochester Coalition and farmers over the proposed bypass move into the headlines with this development? Stay tuned.
Photo: Former DM & E railroad tycoon Kevin Schieffer.
EVENT: Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) will broadcast live via video streaming on its web site a talk by Rep. Tim Walz (D-1-MN)
TIME: 8 p.m., Wednesday, April 21.
URL TO RECEIVE THE TALK: http://www.livestream.com/
SUBJECT: Rep. Walz will talk about significant accomplishments made for service members and veterans in the past few years, how MOAA has played a critical role on Capitol Hill, and work that still needs to be accomplished.
The event is the annual dinner for MOAA’s council and chapter presidents who represent all 50 states. Also attending will be members of MOAA’s 36-member Board of Directors.
ABOUT MOAA: MOAA is the United States’ largest veterans’ organization for active duty, National Guard, Reserve, former, and retired military officers and their families. The association promotes a strong national defense by lobbying for equitable benefits for those who serve and have served their country in the military, including health care, pay, allowances, and family issues.
ABOUT REP. WALZ: U.S. Congressman Tim Walz is in his second term representing Minnesota’s First Congressional District. The District spans the southern part of Minnesota – from the South Dakota border in the west to the Wisconsin border in the east.
Walz serves on the House Agriculture, Transportation and Infrastructure and Veterans Affairs. He also is one of nine House Members to serve on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and was the President of the Democratic Freshman Class.
Walz enlisted in the Army National Guard at age 17, and retired 24 years later as Command Sergeant Major. Walz is the highest ranking enlisted soldier ever to serve in Congress.
One small news item yesterday: Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty's Freedom First PAC endorsed Republican-endorsed CD1 congressional candidate Randy Demmer and contributed $2400 to his campaign committee.
By small, I mean that this move was legacy media blog-worthy but not an item for the dead-tree edition yet--and highly re-tweeted by the staff of the Republican Party of Minnesota and its followers. In the paper's Hotdish Politics blog, Star Tribune political reporter Rachel Stassen-Berger posted under the headline Pawlenty supporting Demmer:
No great surprise but still, perhaps, a boost.
Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty is using his political action committee to support Republican state Rep. Randy Demmer's bid. . .
. . .The nod comes with a financial lift -- a donation from Pawlenty's Freedom First PAC and a link on Pawlenty's Web site encouraging others to support Demmer. He needs the cash help. As a Saturday Star Tribune story noted, "Whoever wins the GOP endorsement will get badly needed help from the party in raising money. Walz has nearly $600,000 in cash on hand after raising more than $1 million. Demmer has raised just $71,592 and has $19,424 cash left after expenses." . . .
The Strib post didn't name the dollar amount on the PAC contribution. For that, I turned to an update on Polinaut, the political blog at Minnesota Public Radio. Tom Scheck noted in Speeches from the 1st District GOP convention:
Update: Gov. Pawlenty's Freedom First PAC is backing Demmer for Congress. His spokesman, Alex Conant, says the PAC will give $2400 to Demmer's campaign.
Where's Pawlenty getting the money to fuel his presidential ambitions--and to give to fellow Republicans?
I didn't have to look far for the answer to that question. On April 15, a page editor provided an illuminating teaser for a Star Tribune article by Pat Doyle and Eric Roper, Pawlenty's PAC: Who's giving?:
More than half of those chipping in to an exploratory presidential PAC are from out of state, and bankers loom large, FEC filings show.
And who might those bankers be? Doyle and Roper report:
At the top of the list are officers of Citadel Investment Group of Chicago, a major hedge fund manager.
Employees of Morgan Stanley, which helps the state of Minnesota manage government employee pensions, also gave money. Pawlenty sits on the board that oversees the pensions.
Citadel wouldn't say why more than a dozen of its top officers gave nearly $50,000 to Pawlenty's PAC -- about 9 percent of the money it brought in.
"We have no comment," said company spokeswoman Devon Spurgeon. "I don't normally comment on any of our contributions."
Citadel officers have been major contributors to politicians around the country over the years, giving $64,000 in the current election cycle to individual candidates and party units for Republicans and Democrats, separate from the money given to Pawlenty's PAC.
Citadel's founder and CEO Kenneth Griffin and chief operating officer Gerald Beeson, both of the Chicago area, led the way as company contributors to Pawlenty's PAC with $5,000 contributions each.
Morgan Stanley investment bankers and a financial adviser gave another $7,000, according to FEC filings. They include William Strong of Lake Forest, Ill., who has been a top executive.
Morgan Stanley and Morgan Stanley & Co. earned more than $700,000 last year in commissions managing stocks for the Minnesota State Board of Investment, which oversees Minnesota government pension funds. Pawlenty sits on the Board of Investment with Attorney General Lori Swanson, Auditor Rebecca Otto and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.
I'll leave the Stanley Morgan investments in Pawlenty's career alone for the moment, for I was most intrigued by the mention of Kenneth Griffin. I knew I'd seen that name somewhere recently in my reading. Now where was that?
Search engines are a wonderful tool: Google led me directly to an April 3 editorial in the New York Times, Hedge Funds Make Hay:
Riding high on the bank bailout, hedge fund managers posted record paydays in 2009, according to an annual survey by AR: Absolute Return +Alpha magazine.
Leading the pack, David Tepper of Appaloosa Management made $4 billion, in part by betting successfully that the government would bail out the big banks. John Paulson, of Paulson & Company, made $2.3 billion by buying back bank stocks he shorted in 2008. And a year after his fund received $200 million in the bailout of the American International Group, Kenneth Griffin of the Citadel Investment Group made $900 million. [emphasis added]
. . .Debate is endless about the role of hedge funds, largely unregulated investment pools for institutional and wealthy investors. What is not disputable is that the funds’ profits are bound up with a defective financial system that has fostered booms, busts and bailouts.
The day after the hedge fund results were released, the government reported that unemployment was stuck at 9.7 percent, with 15 million Americans out of work. For most people with a job, average earnings fell by 2 cents an hour in March, to $18.90. To add insult to injury, some hedge fund managers and, more commonly, private equity fund managers are able to pay a much lower rate of tax than the typical working professional. [emphasis added]
The tax disparity results from an outdated rule that lets a money manager in a private partnership treat a chunk of his fees as if they were long-term capital gains, taxed at a special low rate of 15 percent. Fees for managing someone else’s money should be taxed as ordinary income, like wages and salary, at rates as high as 35 percent.
The pairing of John Paulson and Kenneth Griffin reminded me that they had appeared together before Henry Waxman's committee in late 2008 to testify about the bank bailout (TARP), which Congressman Walz had voted against twice.
Reuters published one account of the hedge fund managers' testimony before the committee in Big hedge funds say US bank bailout a "sweet deal", which began with this telling lead:
Hedge fund managers, who rank among some of the world's shrewdest dealmakers, told Congress the U.S. government's bank capital injection program did not have enough strings attached.
"The current terms are overly generous to recipients," said John Paulson, president of hedge fund Paulson & Co.
He was among five hedge fund managers questioned on Thursday by the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's management of a $700 billion bailout program to unfreeze credit markets through taxpayer investments in financial firms.
John Paulson -- whose attack on the plan was dubbed "Paulson versus Paulson" by the lawmakers -- said any bank receiving federal funds should halt cash dividends on common stock and restrict cash compensation to executives. . . .
Another problem with the bailout:
Falcone, who runs the activist hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners and who highlighted his humble upbringing in his testimony, said banks should receive federal capital at a cost aligned with market rates.
According to the article, Griffin was the one dissenting voice:
. . .The contrarian view came from Griffin, whose Citadel Investment Group is facing a difficult year. His flagship Kensington and Wellington hedge funds were down about 38 percent through early November.
Griffin said the government cannot charge market rates for its capital because those rates are too high for many firms. The capital injections are "in essence an indirect subsidy to the banking system" that he said should be ultimately passed through to the consumer.
But that wasn't Griffin's only instance as an objector to the consensus of the larger group of hedge fund managers. As New York Times "Talking Business" columnist Joe Nocera wrote in Facing Crisis, Congress Makes Sense (see copy beginning half way down the column:
But that wasn't Griffin's only instance as an objector to the consensus of the larger group of hedge fund managers. As New York Times "Talking Business" columnist Joe Nocera wrote in Facing Crisis, Congress Makes Sense (see copy beginning half way down the column:
They all agreed with Mr. Waxman, and with the other Congressional questioners, that in certain cases hedge funds could indeed pose systemic risk. All but Mr. Griffin said they would favor at least some regulation of hedge funds. They all agreed on the need for more disclosure. They said they had no problem turning over now-hidden information about their portfolios to a federal regulator. Mr. Simons and several others (though, again, not Mr. Griffin) said that if Congress changed the tax laws in ways that caused them to have to pay more taxes, they would be O.K. with that. [emphasis added] I almost fell out of my chair.
The lede of the Rochester Post Bulletin's article on last Thursday's Tea Party in the Mayo City mentioned bailouts* as a source of their anger.
Looks like the Republican activists among them will be urging their fellow angry citizens to vote for a guy who has no trouble in taking campaign bucks from a PAC fueled by banking executives who made out quite well from those bailouts. Imagine that.
Image: Billionaire hedge fund manager and Pawlenty PAC wallet Ken Griffin in an ad from the Wall Street Journal.
For much of today, the Star Tribune's HotDish Politics and the Republican Party of Minnesota's serial re-tweet squad hyperventilated over an opinion issued about Randy Demmer by former congressman Vin Weber to the WaPo "The Fix" blog, nestled in the halcyon splendor of the Beltway.
One small detail escaped those who glean news only from Google News Alerts and the twitter: the list of forty names added today to the NRCC's Young Guns program. Not surprisingly, Randy Demmer's name isn't there.
Perhaps it's time for Kevin Diaz and the crew at Park Street to consider treatment for their dizziness, though the old folk remedy of blowing into a paper bag is not longer recommended.
CQ Politics reported earlier today in NRCC Upgrades 15 Candidates, Adds 40 More to Young Guns:
The National Republican Congressional Committee has promoted more than a dozen candidates to "contender" status and added dozens more to its Young Guns program, which aims to recognize and help House Republican's top challengers this cycle.
The program already has 10 candidates who have achieved "Young Guns" status, as well as 62 candidates in the "contender" and "on the radar" categories. The addition of 40 candidates to the program marks the program's biggest expansion so far. ...
Additionally, the committee has accepted these 40 candidates into the program with third-tier "on the radar" status:
- Rick Crawford (AR-01)
- David Schweikert (AZ-05)
- Jim Ward (AZ-05)
- Brad Goehring (CA-11)
- David Harmer (CA-11)
- Elizabeth Emken (CA-11)
- Tom Herrmann (CT-04)
- Steve Southerland (FL-02)
- Bruce O'Donoghue (FL-08)
- Rob Gettemy (IA-02)
- Bobby Schilling (IL-17)
- Mike Sodrel (IN-09)
- Kevin Yoder (KS-03)
- Jeff Reetz (KY-03)
- Jon Golnik (MA-05)
- Jeff Perry (MA-10)
- Paul Welday (MI-09)
- Steven Palazzo (MS-04)
- Ilario Pantano (NC-07)
- Hal Jordan (NC-08)
- Harold Johnson (NC-08)
- Jeff Miller (NC-11)
- Charlie Bass (NH-02)
- Jon Runyan (NJ-03)
- Scott Sipprelle (NJ-12)
- Chris Cox (NY-01)
- Chris Gibson (NY-20)
- Doug Hoffman (NY-23)
- Matt Doheny (NY-23)
- Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25)
- Mike Kelly (PA-03)
- Paul Huber (PA-03),
- Tom Marino (PA-10)
- Dave Argall (PA-17)
- Bert Mizusawa (VA-02)
- Pat Herrity (VA-11)
- John Koster (WA-02)
- Jaime Herrera (WA-03)
- Marc Trager (WI-08) and
- Spike Maynard (WV-03).
To see how CQ Politics rates each of those races, check out our election map.
Notably missing from that list? Randy Demmer. Perhaps our kindly Auntie Tild can photoshop something for my pachyderm friends.
Meanwhile, the Strib catches its breath only a little bit at the endorsement of Republican-endorsed Demmer by another Minnesota Republican, but only MPR notes the size of the PAC contribution Pawlenty has extended: $2400.
Image: The original young guns of pop culture While he has the great hair to fit in the picture, he hasn't made the cut at the NRCC's "on the radar" division.
Meanwhile, the Mankato Free Press's political reporter provides insightful analysis of the gap between the package Demmer's peddling and the rhetoric that initially persuaded a majority of convention delegates--and that many still find attractive.
Editors for the PB's crack reporter Heather Carlson repackage her weekend coverage of the convention under a new headline that's used in both Rochester and Austin online versions of the paper: Fresh from endorsement win, Demmer launches campaign.
Now, the casual reader might surmise from that headline that the Demmer campaign is out doing something today: that there's been a press conference, a door knock, a rally--something, anything since the mild-mannered Hayfield Republican received and accepted the endorsement on Saturday.
Judge for yourself from the lede:
Hayfield state Rep. Randy Demmer did not waste any time Saturday getting to work on his congressional campaign after winning the GOP endorsement.
He wrapped up his acceptance speech before a roomful of delegates with one quick plea.
"One last thing I will ask for, we are collecting checks today and I don't want anyone thinking you can leave here without me asking that question," he said, highlighting how much fundraising and campaigning lies ahead for Demmer, a business owner who was first elected to the Legislature in 2002, as he prepares to take on two-term incumbent Democrat Tim Walz, a teacher from Mankato.
In short, he gave an acceptance speech at the convention, which Carlson covered in an article on Saturday, Demmer wins GOP endorsement to face Walz in November.
Yep, that was certainly news that needed to be reported again as if something new had happened since Saturday. Perhaps it was vitally important news for people in Rochester and the nation to read Demmer's closing pitch for cash--in a speech and event the paper already covered.
As I see it, the recycled online news about the same event seems reposted and repackaged only to sell print newspapers. At the bottom of today's article:
One of the reasons Demmer won the endorsement is his electability, according to a delegate from Oronoco. Read about it in Monday's print edition.
That should make paper sales jump.
Breaking news there, in that #4 item on a blog post: Republican supporting a Republican. Perhaps it's time to remind Minnesotans how former a representative Weber is:
Weber retired from congress in 1992, two years before the "Gingrich revolution", after being caught up in the House Banking scandal [link added by BSP]which revealed the bank had repeatedly paid overdrafts for 125 checks on his account.
While the Fix closes its down-list item by noting the Walz's vast cash advantage, the Star Tribune's HotDish posting leaves that fact out. Not the only thing the Strib left out, either: as I post this, there's no link to the WaPo's "The Fix" blog, so Star Tribune readers aren't led to the full source of the Weber opinion. Bluestem has better blogging manners than that: here's the link to The Fix again.
Of course: the positive opinion of a Republican (who used the House Bank as an interest-free pay-day lender) with regards to another Republican who took legislative per-diems from Minnesota taxpayers while attending NRCC candidate school while missing important votes is far more important than the fact that the Walz campaign has 30 times the cash on hand than Demmer has.
Want a better look at what's happening among First District Republicans? Check out the Mankato Free Press's latest by veteran political reporter Mark Fischenich in GOP feeling optimistic; Party activists anticipate wins in November. Here's a taste:
They were unanimously optimistic about their chances on Nov. 2, but they also seemed to concur that the party will have to do a couple of things to turn that promise into reality.
There’s a general consensus that the current energy can’t be allowed to wane in the summer and fall. And they tend to agree that the Republican message needs to be more focused to connect with average voters who aren’t as preoccupied with politics as party activists.
The big disagreement comes on the message. . . .
Find out what that disagreement is by reading the whole article.
Update: One of Bluestem's longtime readers caught one of Fischenich's sources recycling a claim from late 2008. The "Obama = Hitler" meme appeared on the lips of First District Republican activists as a early as November 15, 2008. Reuse, recycle, refuse: it's the Republican rhetorical way. [end update].
Image: Screenshot of the First District Republicans' homepage post announcing Demmer's endorsement. A clever bit of messaging: combining the endorsement of a Republican party insider with a taste of "teabonics" in the use of the non-standard spelling of "Centennial" to satisfy the Tea Party crowd. It's all good.
Looking around the district newspapers and television station newspapers this afternoon, coverage of yesterday's First Congressional District Republican convention ranges from the superlative reportage by Mankato Free Press political reporter Mark Fischenich to AP correspondent Pat Condon's article, edited off the national wire service by several district dailies.
I'll start with the best: Fischenich's front page article, Demmer gets GOP endorsement; Quist concedes after eighth ballot. People at the convention were tweeting about energy and passion, and the veteran reporter captures the drama in deft paragraphs. The final moments of Allen Quist's campaign:
. . .“I admire your persistence,” he told his supporters, “but I have decided to withdraw as a candidate.”
They responded with groans and a few shouted “No”. Several left the Minnesota State University ballroom where the convention was held before Demmer took the stage to accept the endorsement.
The vast majority of delegates — only a third of whom supported Demmer on the first ballot — stayed and cheered. . . .
Fischenich illustrated the difference between Demmer and this Republican rivals:
While Demmer was critical of Walz — joining the others in attempting to tie the former West High School geography teacher and long-time National Guard member to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco — his rhetoric wasn’t as inflammatory as some of his opponents.
. . .Quist said President Obama and Democrats in Washington are consciously plotting to end America’s 234-history as an independent nation in favor of joining a world government. . . .
. . . Jim Hagedorn, the son of former 1st District Congressman Tom Hagedorn, was introduced by his father, who called this election possibly the last chance “to reverse the socialistic, risky direction that Obama, Pelosi and Tim Walz have taken this nation in just one year.” . .
. . . An insurance agent prior to be called to active duty, Engstrand pledged to vanquish “the tyranny we see day after day from Tim Walz.”
“We must walk out of this building today a unified conservative base and destroy Tim Walz,” Engstrand said. “Not just beat him, destroy him.” . . .
That quest should prove interesting, but I doubt Randy Demmer will be talking like that. The Post Bulletin published a much briefer article: Demmer wins GOP endorsement to face Walz in November. Political reporter Heather Carlson closes the article:
Speaking to delegates, Demmer stressed the need to endorse an electable candidate who can raise the money needed to beat Walz. He said told candidates he has the necessary campaign structure and support among potential donors to take the seat back.
As Patrick Condon noted in the AP dispatch below, Walz has raised over a million so far in the cycle and hold close to $600,000 cash in hand; Demmer closed the first quarter with about $19,000 in the bank. Condon didn't note the committee's debts left over from 2008.
The Post Bulletin continues:
"We absolutely have to stand up and tell Tim Walz this is the end of the road. We are going to have somebody who represents our area, that is from our district, that sees things that we see (and) knows we are not going to go down this path of liberal socialism," he said.
Demmer ran for the seat two years ago and lost in the first ballot to Republican candidate Brian Davis of Rochester. Walz beat Davis getting nearly 63 percent of the vote.
The Owatonna People's Press, the online version the Waseca County News, and the Winona Daily News ran with AP reporter Pat Condon's Demmer wins GOP endorsement in 1st District race. The lede is interesting in light of the loud ranks of anti-RINOites in the state:
Republicans in southern Minnesota on Saturday endorsed state Rep. Randy Demmer to run against Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Walz in November, opting for a candidate who campaigned on mainstream electability over challengers who courted tea party activists and promised conservative purity.
It took Demmer eight ballots to capture the endorsement; Condon's story reflects the concern from the right:
Some delegates worried Demmer isn't conservative enough.
"Randy is closer to the establishment," said Charles Mills, a retired computer technician from Austin who was supporting Quist. "I think people like Quist and Engstrand want to go to Washington and really shake things up."
Having switched from Republican to Democrat four years ago, it's the type of district the GOP is aiming to recapture. But Walz enjoys a massive fundraising advantage so far, starting April with almost $600,000 in the bank compared to about $19,000 for Demmer.
KEYCTV in Mankato (CBS and Fox) covered the endorsement in GOP Endorsing Convention in Mankato. It's a fairly straight-forward report; those not familiar with Demmer can get an idea of his casual, affable style in the non-embeddable clip.
KTTC-TV aired this news segment:
KAAL-TV posted the AP wire story released while the battle was still going on; if it aired coverage of the news, the video has yet to be posted on the station's website.
Statewide and metro media also sent reporters to cover the convention. PIM's Charley Shaw posted Demmer emerges victorious at 1st CD convention after eight ballots, which includes statements by MNGOP chair and taco tycoon Tony Sutton and Walz campaign manager Richard Carlbom.
Minnesota Public Radio's Mark Zdechlick reports on the convention, while adding some academic analysis in Demmer wins GOP endorsement in 1st District:
. . .Minnesota State University Mankato political science professor Joe Kunkel doesn't believe Walz is as vulnerable as Republicans believe. Kunkel noted that Walz was elected and re-elected with support from moderates, and even some conservatives, along with Democrats. . . .
As far I can tell, all of the rest of the articles in statewide media--the Strib, the Pioneer Press and so forth--all draw on the AP dispatch. For the moment, this one isn't looking like a nationalized race.
Photo: A tweeted image of Randy Demmer at the CD1 GOP endorsing convention.
Minnesota Public Radio's Mark Zdechlick reports in Demmer wins GOP endorsement in 1st District:
Minnesota State University Mankato political science professor Joe Kunkel doesn't believe Walz is as vulnerable as Republicans believe. Kunkel noted that Walz was elected and re-elected with support from moderates, and even some conservatives, along with Democrats.
"The race overall is going to be a test of how big the Republican tide is going to be," said Kunkel. "We expect some Republican tide and certainly Democratic losses, but I think it's going to take a pretty big tide to get Walz out of there."
The Republican Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting Walz for defeat. That could be critical for Randy Demmer, who, including loans to his own campaign, had raised less than one-tenth of the money Walz had through the end of last month.
Listeners could come away with the notion that Demmer is in better position financially than he is.
Because the loans to the committee are transferred from Demmer's unsuccessful 2008 campaign, they were part of the 2007-2008 election fundraising cycle, when Demmer loaned and spent the money for his unsuccessful bid for endorsement. They remain on the committee's books, however, as they have not been repaid. Demmer's committee finished the 2007-2008 cycle with $99.25 in the bank and $135,150.00 of debt owed to the candidate.
To create more accurate picture of fundraising, Minnesota Public Radio and other reporters should compare fundraising in the 2009-2010 cycle. By April 1, Demmer had raised $71,592.00 in the new cycle, spent $52,275.62, and had $19,424.63 cash in the bank, with $135,150 worth of loans remained from the last cycle. Until he decided to jump into the race in late November, Demmer did not raise money, did not campaign, and did not appear to make efforts to retire his debt.
Walz, who started out the cycle with relatively little money ($30528.16) and no debt, has maintained an active committee since the beginning of the cycle.He has raised $1,028,097.10 in the cycle, spent $497,572.98 and had $595,541.24 in the bank on April 1.
Yes, Demmer raised less than 1/10th of what Walz has taken in, but that comparison pales beside the contrast between their cash on hand and the disparity between the campaign infrastructure Walz has built since winning in 2008.
Walz now has 30 times the cash Demmer has on hand, or put another way: Demmer has 3.3 percent of what Walz has to work with.
Nor has Walz tapped out his potential donor base. Walz raised $60,451.22 in small contributions in this latest quarter alone, meaning that he can continue to draw from that well. Moreover, given the nature of some of the sorts of attacks that were leveled at the popular congressman on Saturday, it's likely that the campaign will be able to raise even more money.
It's not as if the congressman's campaign staff will stop spending money, nor will national Democrats cede the seat if the NRCC does indeed beginning to invest in the Demmer campaign.
Moreover, Demmer has to build a campaign on the ground from scratch. One friend observed that none of the Hayfield Republican's paid campaign staff lived in the First; nearly all of Walz's campaign staff lives in the district.Will the same be the case with Demmer's campaign in the future?
Image: Randy Demmer as the No-Whammie Man from IDHA's Demmer takes per-diem to attend candidate school in D.C., misleads public about votes missed,a detailed analysis of the votes he missed while attending NRCC campaign school. I suspect DJ Danielson of retouching that photo. Used with permission of IDHA.
In a last minute Hail-Mary pass late last week, the Quist campaign attacked State Representative Randy Demmer, saying that the DFL would attack his amended FEC reports. Bluestem Prairie looked at the Quist attacks on Sunday, and the Post Bulletin split its reportage into two stories on Tuesday.
Nonsense. Now that Demmer has the endorsement, here's what the DFL is actually attacking Randy Demmer on. From its press release:
The Republican Tea Party Choice: Randy DemmerGOP endorses Minnesota’s most hypocritical candidate
St. Paul (April 17, 2010) — Today, the Republican Party of Minnesota officially endorsed Randy Demmer for Congress in Minnesota’s first congressional district. The DFL Party released this statement from Chair Brian Melendez:
“Randy Demmer is about as inconsistent and hypocritical as they come. As a state legislator, Mr. Demmer regularly pandered to the far right instead of working for the needs of his constituents. Now he is trying to paint himself as a mainstream candidate. As a legislator, Mr. Demmer vehemently opposed creating jobs in the bonding bill, citing concerns over fiscal responsibility -- but as a taxpayer, Demmer had no problem taking millions of dollars in business and farm subsidies. And while opposing what he calls ‘government handouts,’ Randy Demmer took legislative per-diems when he was out of the state attending a partisan event.
“Randy Demmer’s actions do not match his words, and he will say and do anything to get himself elected. But the Republican Party has chosen him as its standard bearer, so today I am proud to be a Democrat, and I look forward to working against this hypocritical candidate.”
Randy Demmer – High on Rhetoric, Low on Substance, Without Action
- Randy Demmer has shown no ability to lead and make tough choices.
- He was unable to identify two legislative priorities he would support if he was elected, choosing instead to support vague sentiments and parrot Tea Party talking points. [Tea Party questionnaire* (link to RTPP site added by BSP) hihlights differences between Demmer, Quist. Rochester Post Bulletin. 3/31/10.]
- Demmer’s message of fiscal responsibility rings false, as he has chosen to take legislative per-diems while attending partisan candidate training in Washington, D.C.9link added by BSP). [A Monday Math Lesson: A word problem from Randy Demmer’s per diem. Bluestem Prairie. 10/15/07.]
- Randy Demmer has taken 74,707 in farm subsidies since 1995. [EWG. Farm Subsidy Database.]
- Randy Demmer has received $468,911 in small business subsidies through his company RKD Properties. [1999 Minnesota Business Assistance Form and 2001 Minnesota Business Assistance Form.]
- Voters in the first district deserve strong leadership and representation, not waffling and pandering aimed at winning an election.
Walz's campaign has issued this statement about the Demmer endorsement:
Walz Focused on Main Street, Veterans, and Growing the Local Economy
- Today, Richard Carlbom, Campaign Manager for Tim Walz for U.S. Congress, released the following statement following the Republican endorsement of State Representative Randy Demmer:
"After 6 months of negative campaigning, we are very interested in finally hearing State Rep. Demmer’s ideas to solve the immense challenges we face. We are going to continue running our campaign on Tim’s record of effective service for southern Minnesota. Tim has delivered for our businesses on main street while holding Wall Street accountable, delivered for our veterans by working to ensure they receive the benefits they have earned, delivered for middle class families with the largest tax cut in history and delivered for students by making sure college is more affordable. Folks in southern Minnesota know Tim works for them."
Note: The Rochester Tea Party Patriot's Questionnaire references a stimulus bill, H.R. 5140, the Recovery Rebates and Economic Stimulus for the American People Act, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2008. This is a rather odd question, in light of the fact that most of the Tea Party anger about "the stimulus bill" seems directed toward President Obama. However, Bluestem will simply accept the notion that the Rochester Tea Party Patriots knew what they were doing when they put together their own survey. Randy Demmer indicated he supports the bill, which Congressman Walz voted for. Allen Quist indicated he did not support the bill
Images: Allen Quist (left) concedes that Randy Demmer (right) will persuade Southern Minnesota voters with his red eyes of death (unretouched photo-above); Randy Demmer as the No-Whammie Man from IDHA's Demmer takes per-diem to attend candidate school in D.C., misleads public about votes missed,a detailed analysis of the votes he missed while attending NRCC campaign school. I suspect DJ Danielson of retouching that photo (below).
Bluestem kvetches a lot about media venues that cheerfully reprint nonsense uttered by speakers (or, ever worse, imagine that politicians are taking positions opposite of those they actually hold). Thus, it's good to see a small town paper joining the recent moves by Sunday morning shows to fact check guests' statements.
Props to the Owatonna People's Press and staff writer Claire Kennedy to looking into a claim made by Doug Loon, a speaker from Midwest Office of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who stopped by a recent "Coffee with the U.S. Chamber" in Steele County.
Kennedy's analysis, Doctors' exodus: Fact or fiction?, checked out one of Loon's claims:
When Doug Loon met with members of the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism on Friday morning, he threw out an ominous statistic: A survey in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 46 percent of physicians would leave their profession in the wake of the recently passed health care reform legislation.
There’s just one problem. That statement is false.
No such survey was ever published or undertaken by the prestigious medical journal.
“NEJM did not publish the physician survey you referenced,” Jennifer Zeis, a spokesperson for the journal said in an e-mail. “The source of the survey is The Medicus Firm.” . . .
. . .Detractors of the legislation have said one potential impact was an outflow of doctors. To support this claim, critics have referenced the Medicus survey as the work of the NEJM.Subsequent to his presentation to the Owatonna chamber, Loon was asked for the publication of the New England Journal of Medicine survey he referenced. He said he wasn’t sure when it was published, but thought it was “a few weeks ago.”
In fact, the Medicus survey was not published by the journal, but can be found in “Recruiting Physicians Today,” a free advertiser newsletter published by the Worldwide Advertising Sales and Marketing Department. That department is in the publishing division of the Massachusetts Medical Society. The only connection between the newsletter and the New England Journal of Medicine is that the latter is also published by the Massachusetts Medical Society.
A disclaimer on the journal’s Web site makes it clear that the opinions expressed in the Medicus survey do not represent the opinions of the New England Journal of Medicine. . .
To her credit, Kennedy delves deeper into the survey, as well as reporting on Loon's visit. Go read the entire article at the OPP.
The OPP keeps it local, but while reading Kennedy's article, I had the sense that I'd heard that one before. Could it have been uttered by Minnesota's most famous loon? What are the odds?
Mr. Google confirmed my hunch: the first hit in a keyword search for "Bachmann" "doctors" "New England Journal of Medicine" took me to Polifact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning site kept by the St. Petersburg Times. On late March, it looked at a statement made on Face the Nation: Bachmann claims New England Journal of Medicine survey found 30 percent of doctors would quit if health reform bill passed. The fact check concludes:
But on top of getting the source wrong, we think Bachmann sensationalizes the Medicus results, saying that "30 percent of American physicians would leave the profession" if the health care bill passed. The survey language was that they would "try to leave" or "try to retire early" if it passed. There's a difference. Altogether, we rate her claim False.
The Polifact analysis is a good companion to the OPP article. Loon not only echoed Bachmann's false claim, but inflated the figure. One wonders how many other places and time folks like Loon ventured to small towns and made similar bogus claims about the horrors of health care.
While some Americans want newspapers just to report on events and not fact check, the ability and freedom to scrutinize claims remains one of the strongest arguments for free speech and a free press. While morons I like to forget like Bachmann say the darnest things, I agree with John Milton that Truth will most often beat Falsehood in a free and open fight.
Images: "St. Paul, MN, USA - August 15, 2006: The Vote For Business Bandwagon bus forms a perfect backdrop during a stop at the Machine Shed in Lake Elmo, a suburb of St. Paul. Speaking is U.S. Chamber Congressional Affairs regional vice president Doug Loon and State Senator Michele Bachmann. Photo by Ian Wagreich / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce"( photo copyright U.S. Chamber of Commerce, used with permission) above; Polifact's Truth-o-Meter (below)
Note: Doug Loon is the spouse of Minnesota state representative district 42B Jennifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie).
Minnpost's Max Sparber leads today's Daily Glean, Party pooper: Tax day protest turnouts underwhelming, with this:
Thursday we at the Daily Glean made the case that the Tea Party gets attention beyond that which they have earned. We thought we made the case pretty well, but did the local media listen to us? Oh no; no they didn't. Do they ever? Let's offer a little round-up of local coverage of tax day protests and see what we can learn:
At the start of the day, the Associated Press offered an opinion from statewide Tea Party coordinator Toni Backdahl that "protests could be larger this year because of anger by some over the health care overhaul." As it turned out, Backdahl was exactly wrong.
Sparber supports that assessment by looking at coverage of the Tea Party rally In St. Paul, where numbers dropped dramatically from the year before and national rallies, but doesn't go afield in Greater Minnesota. Inspired by Sparber's party pooping, I took a look around the state.
Judging from 2009 and 2010 old and new media accounts of Tea Party rallies in both years, both the number of events and people attending appear to have dropped. Most news accounts from 2009 place the number of Tea Parties in Minnesota at 16, with events scheduled, as the Star Tribune reported, in
Austin, Bemidji, Brainerd, Cook County, Duluth, Elbow Lake, Fairmont, Mankato, Mille Lacs County, North Branch, Rochester, Slayton, St. Cloud, St. Paul, Steele County [Owatonna] and Willmar.
That's 17 tea parties in 2009. This year, the Tea Party Patriots listed 11 events (one is later in April) and most news accounts reported "at least 10" as did this AP article. The TPP site included:
Bemidji, Duluth, Mankato, Milaca, Owatonna, Princeton, Rochester, St. Paul, Willmar and Winona.
The West Central Tribune reported on a small Tea Party in Montevideo involving three or four dozen people, while the Brainerd Dispatch covered a rally there that "between 300 and 400" people attended.
That's 12 Tea Parties, down from 17 the year before. Austin, Cook County, Elbow Lake, Fairmont, North Branch, Slayton and St. Cloud didn't host Tea Parties again; Montevideo picked one up. The Princeton and Milaca events are most likely connected with last year's Mille Lacs County events.
For 2009-only rallies for which attendance figures can be found, that drop off is significant. The St. Cloud Times ( full article viewed via Nexis) reported that between 400-500 people attended; according the Austin Herald, 130 people attended the Spam Town gathering. No word on the attendance at the other 2009 singletons.
One city showed a dramatic increase: Winona, which skyrocketed from 30 to more than 200, the Winona Daily News reported.
Brainerd probably remained on an even keel, judging from pictures of the "hundreds" in 2009 who were prone to rash statements about religion and culture and the photos of the "several hundred" this year, who bemoaned media descriptions of Tea Party members as " "toothless white rednecks morons, fundamentalist Bible-thumping wackos, racist homophobic science-denying radical militiamen" before airing a list of grievances.
Estimates of Bemidiji's 2010 Tea Party attendance ranged from 300-400 people at a street rally, with only a third sticking around for speeches that came later. In 2009, 350 attended the rally, which included speeches.
If one accepts the figures from Tea Party organizers, the Duluth area attendance has declined. In 2009, the Duluth Tribune reported 700 Tea Partiers in Duluth and 200 in Superior, though the local planners put the numbers at slightly over 1200. This year? Between 800 and 1000, according to estimates by the papers and organizers.
Mankato's numbers probably would have dipped a bit had it not been for the arrival of 50 or more counter-protesters counted by a reporter from the local Fox affiliate.
While a preliminary guess by the station predicted larger numbers, a photo (right) from the Mankato Free Press show about 200 people in the 2010 crowd, the "hundreds" mentioned in the 2010 article.
Other photos that friends have sent concur with the 2010 Free Press picture that were taked at different times during the rally; this video from yesterday shows about the same number.
In 2009, the paper reported that 200 people were on hand for the protest by the Post Office in Mankato. This isn't "growing" numbers.
There's more evidence that Rochester's Tax Day Tea Party attendance has dipped. While I could not find any figures from news accounts published in 2009, KAAL-TV reported last night that over 1000 people attended last year. Today, the Tea Party friendly Post Bulletin reported:
Organizers estimated that about 1,000 people turned out for the rally. Rochester police put the total at about 500.
Split the difference, and it's still a decline from last year. It's significant that neither the Rochester nor the Mankato events showed a boost, because the deep drop in numbers at this year's event in Owatonna were attributed to a desire to get more people out in Mankato and Rochester, according to the Owatonna People's Press:
In the next half-hour, other Tea Party protesters trickled into Central Park, but by 6 p.m. the number in attendance was far less than last year — when more than 200 people descended on the park on Tax Day. Most of those present were familiar faces on the local Republican scene — former Rep. Connie Ruth, Janet Day and Brandon Pofahl. All in all, organizer Dave Thul said, there were about 48 people at the height of the protest — 14 of them holding signs on the sidewalk. Thul said he was not worried about the sparse number of Tea partiers.
“Last year’s event was kind of thrown together at the last minute. We had a lot of people from all around the area of Owatonna. This year, we’ve got mostly just Owatonna, Steele County people, but that’s not a bad thing because Rochester and Mankato have big rallies going on,” Thul said. “They’re hoping to have 1,600 people today, so I don’t feel bad if we don’t have that big of a crowd because they’re going someplace else, but I think the total number of people who show up to Tea parties in Minnesota today is the number to look for.”
Thul's remarks suggest that organizers in Mankato, Rochester and Owatonna worked together, and that their projected attendance felt far short of their goals. With no rallies in Austin, Fairmont and Slayton, it's likely that total attendance in Southern Minnesota has dropped from last year. Like Sparber, I doubt the local media will take note of this, anymore than that in the Twin Cities can figure it out.
Owatonna's experience is echoed in Willmar. Last year, 350 turned out in the Kandiyohi County hub; this video shows the pickets on both sides of a busy street. This year? No coverage in the paper, but eye witnesses put the count at 50-60, figures that are confirmed by the images found a Facebook page album for the Republican running for the state house seat now held by Alan Juhnke; the "crowd" is about four deep and the yellow tape suggests far more people were expected.
The rally had been billed by local Republicans as a chance to meet CD7 GOP endorsed congressional candidate Lee Byberg.
Did the West Central Tribune opt to avoid embarrassing local Republicans, or did it simply cover the Montevideo rally instead because the event was--well--newsworthy?
Note: Over the weekend, I'll post analysis of the remarks by Tom Hagedorn and Cindy Maves about Americans who aren't taxed enough already--the surprising revival of the old "Lucky Ducky" meme of the Bush years.
Photos: Party pooper (above); Mankato Tea Party, from the Mankato Free Press (middle); Willmar Tea Party (below).
All of the statements, opinions, and views expressed on this site by Sally Jo Sorensen are solely her own, save when she attributes them to other sources.
The opinions, statements, and views of contributing writers are their own.
Sorensen, editor and proprietor of Bluestem Prairie, served as a New Media training and strategy consultant for the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party from October 2009 through mid-April 2010. She now serves clients in the business and nonprofit sectors.