There's been a flood of reportage (and social media commentary) about added expenses for restoration of the Minnesota State Capitol, from the straight forward Daudt backed additional $2M for legislative space upgrades in renovated Capitol by Patrick Condon in the Star Tribune to the more pointed snark of Cory Zukowski's House Speaker Kurt Daudt goes Martha Stewart at taxpayers' expense.
The latter piece contains language from an unnamed Republican legislator that makes us wonderful who's the designated majority caucus potty mouth:
State Rep. Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) was salty during the early springtime in 2014.
Democrats in the Minnesota Legislature, Daudt carped, were squandering $90 million in taxpayer cash for a new four-story Senate Office Building.
“Here we are," said Daudt. "Democrats in St. Paul are about to spend between $60 and $90 million of taxpayers’ hard-earned money to build themselves an office building. This looks horrible.”
But about the same time Daudt was railing about waste, he was working behind the scenes to secure a posh redecoration of his own digs as part of the Capitol's massive renovation, according to a GOP legislator, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to run afoul of Daudt.
"Kurt's not a bad guy," says the source. "But this is fucked because here he was beating the shit out of the Democrats at the same he was angling and negotiating to decorate his new office with fancy shit. It eats away at our credibility." . . .
According to the GOP lawmaker, that cash [an extra $2 million] is earmarked for such things as a $10,000 ceremonial door for Daudt's office, vintage hardwood floors that the speaker "insisted on," and "fancy leather furniture" that will hark back to the days when Theodore Roosevelt was president.
What are Minnesotans to do when both Senate Majority Leader Bakk and now Speaker Daudt appear to require quality construction and furnishings in St. Paul? How can we flourish with slow or no broadband, pock-marked roads and dangerous rail crossings while our leaders craft more backroom conference committee deals behind that closed $10,000 door or rocking in those high-end chairs in committee rooms where the recording equipment's been turned off?
Entirely coincidentally (we think), a lobbyist forwarded photos of an invitation to the House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC) 20th Annual Elephant Annual Golf Tournament at the Bunker Hills Golf Club on Monday, September 14, 2015, in Coon Rapids (invitation cover at the top of this post).
The enclosed list of prices for sponsorships caught our eye, since that platinum sponsor is $10,000:
We were struck by the fact that $10,000, directed to the restoration, would pay for that fancy door. That insight led us to dream big by proposing one simple trick that will solve the problem of making the role of money in policy-making more transparent.
It's taken for granted now that lobbyists write the laws for our legislators, mostly, while they and their clients foot the bill for political campaigns and independent expenditures. Attack ads on the airwaves assault the voters' tranquility, while our mail boxes are besieged by mean-spirited over-sized junk mail savaging one candidate, canonizing the other, or both.
Indeed, as both Condon and Zukowski report, these hit pieces often concern legislators spending on their swanky office suites.
We can put an end to this waste. Let's make government more efficient by cutting out the middleman. Instead of having special interests foot the bills for political campaigns, buy the legislators, then write the laws, let's just sell the state capitol outright and let the lobbyists use the space to do what they do anyway.
Let's not reduce the size of the state legislature or whack one chamber, as reformers repeatedly suggest. Let's get rid of the entire experiment. Let's be honest about the purpose of the building and let the new owners foot the bill.
Citizens won't be bothered by canvas teams, phone banks, abrasive ads or that vexing Disturbing data: The rich and powerful get their policies adopted, even if opposed by most voters Eric Black noted in MinnPost back in May.
Photos: Elements from the invitation to go golfing with the HRCC. While we're using a Republican invitation, the DFL caucuses host similar fundraisers.
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