Despite on-going criticism of Representative Michele Bachmann's cray-cray allegations about Muslim-Americans serving in the federal government, including fellow Minnesota representative Keith Ellison, Allen Quist held his Bachmann fundraiser last night in Rochester.
Meanwhile, MN CD1 Republican primary opponent Mike Parry reminded voters that Bachmann did so love him too, having endorsed him in his two state senate races. Meanwhile, he had local Republican leaders supporting him.
Quist dodges issue
While Mike Parry might fear meeting Quist in a real debate, the Norseland farmer and retired college professor did a bit of conflict avoidance himself Friday night, side-stepping questions about Bachmann's controversial statements, which have earned the scorn of Republicans like John McCain and House Speaker John Boehner.
In Michele Bachmann appears at Rochester fundraiser, the Post Bulletin's Heather Carlson reports:
. . .Newspaper and TV reporters covering the fundraiser were informed shortly before it started that the congresswoman would not answer questions, and the media was not allowed to cover her speech. Asked about Bachmann's recent accusations, Quist declined to weigh in, saying, "It's just not my area." . . .
Star Tribune staff writers Kevin Diaz and Jennifer Brooks have more in Heat is on Bachmann after leveling new charges at Ellison:
Back in Minnesota Friday to headline a fundraiser for Allen Quist, Bachmann declined to speak with reporters or even to allow them in the room with her. About 75 people turned out for the Rochester event, which raised about $9,000 for Quist, who is in a contested GOP primary race for the First District seat. Her lone interaction with journalists was a wave out of a car window and a cheery "bye-bye!" as she drove away.
Quist sought to distance himself from the controversy, saying, "I'm delighted to have her here." Of her comments, he said, "It's not my issue. My issue is the national debt."
In some respects, Quist's avoidance is a giant step back from statements made two years ago. In his 2010 bid for the Republican endorsement, Quist famously said that defeating Walz and Obama was more important than defeating terrorism. Quist wasn't alone in invoking fears of terrorism. The Minnesota Independent reported in ‘Fear mongering,’ little substance in Hagedorn’s terror ‘white paper’:
Hagedorn, and fellow CD-1 GOPer Allen Quist, are both invoking terrorism in their campaigns. The pair got a “thumbs down” from the Mankato Free Press editorial board last week for the negative tone of their campaigns, including Quist’s headline-grabbing statement that fighting “radicals” like Walz and Barack Obama was a bigger “battle” than fighting terrorism.
Quist was called out on MSNBC for using the “terrorism exploitation machine” in hopes of winning election.
Hagedorn, with his terrorism white paper, now joins Quist in that camp, says Hamline University professor David Schultz . . .
In Schultz’s eyes, though, they’re using nearly identical rhetoric. “In a variety of ways, they’re doing what I call interesting McCarthyite actions… It’s a form of red baiting: Equating Democrats and liberals with Muslims and terrorists. It just depends on where they want to put the accent.” . . .
Equating all Muslims with terrorists and groups thought to be extreme seems to be the game Bachmann is playing to the point where she defames her colleague Keith Ellison. It is indeed unfortunate that Quist doesn't have the decency to call her out; one of the responsibilities of friendship is to let your friend know when she's full of it.
Quist famously said during his 2010 bid that defeating Walz and Obama was more important than defeating terrorism; Hamline law professor David Schultz told the Minnesota Independent that Quist's formulation was a form of back-handed "red-baiting" intended to equate Democrats with terrorists.
Parry: Bachmann likes me too
Flailing Quist primary rival Mike Parry, whose checkbook held a mere $30,600 at the end of the Q2 reporting period, misses a chance at showing some integrity about Americans who are Muslims as well.
Instead, the Parry campaign opted to remind Republicans that Congressman Bachmann has blessed his lesser bids for office. The Post Bulletin reports:
Bachmann has been a Parry supporter in the past, Parry's campaign noted.
"Congresswoman Bachmann endorsed my two winning campaigns for state Senate," Parry said in a statement. "I'm honored to have the support of Rochester legislators, like Sen. Dave Senjem and Rep. Mike Benson, in our campaign for Congress."
Isn't that special?
Huckle Media executive demands apology or resignation
But scolding Bachmann isn't just a bipartisan Beltway thing. In the district, Steve Pope, the chief operating officer of the conservative Huckle Media chain--which owns district newspapers in Faribault, LeCenter, Le Sueur, Owatonna, St. Peter and Waseca--contributed a guest editorial to the OPP, Minnesotans should be ashamed for Michelle Bachmann:
We all know bigotry should not happen. So does Michelle Bachmann. Bigotry, intolerance and blatantly unfounded accusations have no place in a position at the level of the one she holds.
She should be ashamed. We should be ashamed for her. She should apologize or consider resigning.
Curiously, the comments run toward defense of Bachmann and criticism of the Owatonna People's Press. The OPP's Mao-worthy name is the only thing about the paper that might suggest left-leanings, so complaints that Huckle Media is part of some liberal media conspiracy are laughable.
A recent example? While the rest of Minnesota's papers reported that Parry and Quist's fundraising for both the quarter and the election cycle lagged far behind that of Walz, the OPP only reported on the cycle totals. In Parry, Quist raise money for potential run against Walz in southern Minnesota, readers were also left in the dark about how much cash Parry and Quist had on hand:
As the campaign for the Republican nomination for Minnesota’s First Congressional District enters its final weeks, candidates Mike Parry and Allen Quist are checking their bank accounts.
As of the end of June, the Quist campaign said it has raised $218,160 for the Minnesota primary, which takes place on Aug. 14. The Parry campaign has raised less than half that — just $102,305.10.
The article then goes into the spat over Quist's self-funding, but never reports either Republican's cash on hand. This isn't true for its reporting on the Walz campaign's fundraising:
Walz, DFL-Minn., stands second among Minnesota Congressional candidates with $808,000 cash on hand. Sara Severs, campaign manager for the Tim Walz for Congress, said the three-term Congressman has raised $1.4 million in the 2012 election cycle.
One could forgive readers in Owatonna for imagining that the gap between Parry and Walz's bank accounts isn't that large--an 8-to-1 or a 4-to-1 difference, rather than the $30,608.46 v. $808,000 gap (Parry v. Walz) or $165,214.32 v. $808,000 gap (Quist v. Walz). Whatever the spin on this, it's not toward the Democratic incumbent.
While Bachmann's headline-garnering witchhunt is the more reckless, Mike Parry isn't afraid to glean earned media from his own grandstanding against Secretary of State Ritchie, despite Friday morning's snoozer of a hearing.
In Republican legislators take Ritchie to task over photo ID, Star Tribune staff writer Jim Ragsdales writes:
Parry, who faces a tough congressional primary against former state Rep. Allen Quist on Aug. 14, denied that he harbored any political motives in calling the hearing. He said he has heard complaints about Ritchie's activities and wanted to investigate them. He said Ritchie's public descriptions of the amendment, if shown to be untrue, could amount to violations of campaign laws.
That's why he drove such an totally nonpartisan set of wheels to the Minnesota state capitol. Will the state senate pay for mileage or Parry's congressional campaign committee or both?
And the evidence? Trial by newspaper:
The main anti-Ritchie testimony came from Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, sponsor of the photo ID bill, and Dan McGrath of Minnesota Majority, one of the chief lobbyists supporting the measure. Newman -- saying he was appearing as a private citizen, apparently because he, too, is a named plaintiff -- cited newspaper clippings from Mankato and Marshall, Minn., in which Ritchie discussed the amendment and its effects.
Minnesota Majority has already produced an ad calling Ritchie's integrity into question. The ad includes this text: "
Well, guess what? Minnesotans recently learned that one of Secretary Ritchie's own employees appears to have voted illegally in at least two elections using a false identity. If Mark Ritchie can't smell voter fraud when it's right under his nose, how can we possibly trust him on Voter ID?
A fascinating question, and what Minnesotans don't learn from that ad is that the indicted individual first voted in 2004, when Mary Kiffmeyer was Secretary of State; the employee was hired in 2005 and promoted in 2006, under Kiffmeyer's administration, as Fox9 News reported in Ritchie commends use of facial recognition tech in finding fraud.
Kiffmeyer was the first executive director of Minnesota Majority. Using the group's own logic, if she couldn't smell fraud when it was right under her nose, how are we to trust her or Minnesota Majority on Voter ID?
More seriously, in early 2006 the Pawlenty administration first raised the possibility of using a Department of Homeland Security federal grant to suss out potentially bogus drivers licenses, then conducted the scan of the drivers license photo database using facial recognition software in 2008. Around 24,000 possibly fraudulent licenses were flagged. Pawlenty was governor for two more years--and he, not Secretary of State Ritchie, had oversight of the DMV database.
Why didn't the governor take action or build a system for routine scans? Some friends have suggested that the findings would have proven damaging to his presidential ambitions, since no Democrat had served as governor of Minnesota for decades. With the amendment on the ballot, there's a chance to misdirect the indictment of a Kiffmeyer hire--and Pawlenty inaction--to Ritchie.
A most curious witchhunt indeed.
Photos: Michele Bachmann rides away from the Quist fundraiser (above) Photo via the Star Tribune); Mike Parry's wheels parked outside Friday's senate hearing. (Tweetpic by Lithappens). AP reporter Brian Bakst snapped and tweeted another angle here.
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