As a devoted Gretchen Hoffman watcher, I was a bit startled when I first heard the freshman state senator contrast her loving childhood where she "never knew how poor we were" with the rhetoric of "class warfare" she finds in Governor Dayton's politics. Here's the audio from a radio broadcast last month:
On May 26, 2011 (mp3 podcast), Hoffman, born Gretchen Marie Pflugrath, told radio listeners tuned into AM 1100, the Flag, that her father was a construction foreman and her mom was a stay-at-home mother.
That might have been true for part of her childhood--but that storyline changed in 1971 when her father started a PVC pipe manufacturing firm that was to become very successful. Hoffman turned 14 in 1971.
It's great that her father started a successful business. Now retired, he received an award for his business leadership in 2006, KXnet.com reported in U-Mary Honors Mick Pflugrath With Entrepreneur Award:
America's Leadership University and its new Gary Tharaldson School of Business and Technology will proudly present the 2006 Leader in Entrepreneurship Award to Mick Pflugrath CEO of GPK Products, Inc. of Fargo on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2006, at 6 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Holiday Inn in Fargo.
At 4:30 p.m. in the Holiday Inn's Dakota Hall, a panel with Pflugrath; Spencer Hildre, president of GPK Products, Inc; and Wayne Voorhees, president of Northern Pipe Products will discuss "Building a Business: Reaching a Global Market."
GPK Products, Inc. is a wholly owned corporation of the Pflugrath family and located in Fargo's industrial park. Its plant, approximately the size of six Football fields, is the largest producer of PVC fittings for the wastewater industry in the United States. Its growth has been approximately 20 percent annually since 1971. . . .
That's awesome, an American success story. What isn't so great is that Hoffman didn't think to share that success story with her listeners, instead, opting to blither on with an implied "poor but loving and stable" narrative to underscore her preceptions of Dayton's "ideology" and perhaps his own upbringing as a retail princeling. It's well-known that Dayton was born into a wealthy family; the GOP seems to kvetch about this a great deal, while deploring envy itself.
I'm less clear just what the heck Hoffman was up to when she was less than candid about her own background. Since she serves on the board of GPK Products, Inc., she probably knows when the company was started, right? One would think that she'd be proud of the family firm's rise to national prominence.
And this isn't the first time she's been a bit fuzzy about the firm. Earlier this year, the Minnesota Daily reported that she had said that the North Star state's business climate forced the company to build in North Dakota.
A hardship, Bluestem is certain, for a company that was started in North Dakota. Life is always so rough for poor Kvetchin' Gretchen, whether she knows it or not.
Note: In this Facebook post, readers see a photo of "Gretchen Hoffman, Pat Pflugrath &" another person. "Mick and Pat Pflugrath" show up in a google search as contributors to the NDSU Foundation. Googled separately, they turn up as generous contributors to Republican political committees in North Dakota; both are now retired. It's safe to say these are Hoffman's parents. And the issue here isn't with their success; it's Hoffman's radio tale--condemning class warfare while playing a sly hand of it herself--that's the problem.