Last week in Hutchinson's Library Square, Republican Dan Severson gave his usual stump speech about stolen elections, ACORN and felons voting in Minnesota. Nothing much to report there, and Outstate Politics's Eric Austin has tweeted that he may be posting a YouTube of a recent Severson appearance. If my footage captured any variation, I'll consider posting it after OP's YouTube appears. Update: yep, OP has posted a YouTube of the same stump speech I heard. Good quicktake analysis in the post.[end update]
Checking on a couple of Severson's claims, I stumbled across a Letter to the Editor of the St. Cloud Times from Severson in response to a widely circulated article by staff writer Mark Sommerhauser. In Times should address voting system problems, Severson writes:
Let’s start with Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who has publicly stated he has looked through 150 years of elections and has not found one case of identity fraud.
Really? A couple of years ago, Kathleen Ann Soliah was discovered to be living in Minnesota. The deadly bomber had been hiding in Minnesota for decades. Do you think she voted under her assumed name of Sarah Jane Olson? Yet when Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, former secretary of state, asked if Ritchie was looking into the issue, the response from the office was “It’s just one vote, Mary.” Fraud is wrong and unless the law is enforced lawlessness increases.
This statement caught my interest, because as I recalled events, Soliah (Sara Jane Olson) was discovered living in Minnesota more than a "couple of years ago" --indeed my aging memory placed her capture in the waning days of the 20th century.
Additionally, if my memory served right, Soliah/Olson was arrested during Mary Kiffmeyer's first term as Minnesota's Secretary of State. Thus, Severson's use of this example seemed a bit off as evidence of Mr. Ritchie's supposed malfeasance. Why didn't Kiffmeyer look into the issue? Indeed, she remained in office through another term, serving until Ritchie swept her out of office in 2006.
Severson doesn't seem to have heard of the urban dictionary slang term JFGI. If he had, he probably won't have used this example to bash Ritchie. As my memory suggested, the SLA fugitive-turned-cookie-baker was arrested in another century--on June 16, 1999, after being profiled in on America's Most Wanted in March and May of that year.
Not "a couple of years ago," as Severson writes, but eleven years ago.
Moreover, Kiffmeyer was Secretary of State at the time; her tenure in office extended from January 4, 1999 though January 2, 2007. Additionally, Kiffmeyer already knew the answer about Soliah/Olson when she asked Ritchie the question.
On March 25, 2009, PIM's Steve Perry reported in Stupid legislator tricks: Mary Kiffmeyer v. Sara Jane Olson:
Back around the start of the session in January, I was having coffee with a former Republican legislator when the subject turned to freshman legislators–and in particular to the most notorious freshman of them all, former Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer (pictured). "She’ll chafe at being in the House," said the legislator with a shake of the head. "She’s just one of 134 there. She’s used to a bigger stage. She’ll have to find ways to get attention."
That seemed like an idle observation until yesterday. With the news cameras rolling, Rep. Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) hopped on the Sara Jane Olson grandstand to proclaim that Ramsey County attorney Susan Gaertner should investigate the recently paroled Olson for vote fraud in connection with ballots she cast years ago while living in Minnesota as a fugitive from the law. The grounds? Olson–who was born Kathleen Soliah–had quite likely broken the law by voting under the name Sara Jane Olson. It’s a charge that Kiffmeyer first levied back in 1999, after Olson was captured. . . .
. . .Some things don’t change. Gaertner responded by calling Kiffmeyer’s characterization of the matter "irresponsible." Gaertner said her office did investigate Kiffmeyer’s claim back in 1999, and found that Sara Jane Olson was the former Ms. Soliah’s legal name when the votes in question were cast. She added that Kiffmeyer was told as much at the time, despite her claim yesterday that there was never an investigation.
Gaertner offered this tart postscript to KARE11’s Jana Shortal: "Certainly a phone call to me would have taken care of it, but then, well, there wouldn’t have been headlines."
That link to KARE 11 is still live. In Kiffmeyer seeks voter fraud charges for Sara Jane Olson, the station reports:
Anything connected with Sara Jane Olson can snag a headline.
That's at least the opinion of Ramsey County attorney Susan Gaertner.
You see back in 1999 then Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer contacted Gaertner, demanding an investigation be launched into what name Olson used when voting in Minnesota.
Kiffmeyer alleged if she voted as Sara Jane, not her birth name, she was committing voter fraud.
"We did investigate that allegation, we took it seriously as we always do when voter fraud is alleged and we learned in fact that Sara Jane Olson was her legal name in 1998 and had been her legal name since she got married in Hennepin County in 1980," Gaertner said Tuesday.
In short Olson broke no law. Her legal name, as seen on this marriage license, was Sara Jane Olson and that is the name she voted with.
Today Representative Mary Kiffmeyer cried voter fraud again, to capitol reporters. . . .
. . . Gaertner says Kiffmeyer was told about the results of this exact case in 1999 so to bring it up again in Gaertner's words is irresponsible and purely for political gain.
"Certainly a phone call to me would have taken care of it but then, well, there wouldn't not have been headlines," Gaertner said.
Clearly, Severson's representation of fact falls far from the mark. But I wouldn't put it past the nitwits who now run Severson's campaign and the Republican Party of Minnesota to imply that Gaertner was somehow coddling a leftie and a terrorist.
Good one. Perhaps Severson and Tony Sutton could ask the RNC8 about whether that's part of the county attorney's MO. For that matter, former Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe might have some choice insights on whether or not he got a pass from Gaertner's office in 1996.
Photo: Someone needs to tell poor Dan Severson that big gun of Kiffmeyer's shoots blanks.