Note: the post below has been updated to clarify a matter confused by a brother blogger on the right who fancies that the payments to credentialled journalist Shawn Towle from the DFL Senate caucus committee began after the DFL took power in 2013.
However, the contracts with the DFL Caucus began in 2012, while Towle was a credentialled journalist, as Towle was first credentialed by the Senate when the Republican caucus controlled the body, as Towle pointed out to the Star Tribune.
But the timeline for the story didn't begin there. Both parties broke the spirit of the Senate media credential policy during the 2011-2012 sessions, and with the same journalist.
As we pointed out in Hired guns, part IV: the MnSRC & Shawn Towle go to mattresses over capitol media credentials, Towle had earlier received payments from the Republican Party of Minnesota. In 2010 and 2011, when Michael Brodkorb served both as Deputy Chair of the Republican Party and as an aide to Minority Leader David Senjem (2010) and to Majority Leader Amy Koch (2011), the RPM paid Towle $9,750 in 2010 and $5,250 in 2011. The post includes screenshots from the RPM campaign finance reports.
At the time that the new rule was crafted in early March 2011, Towle had not yet received a payment from the Republican Party of Minnesota. According to campaign finance records (screenshot here) the first payment of the year to Shawn Towle's Key Strategies was made on March 16, 2011 for "political consulting." Towle received his last payment on November 7, 2011. Because party units and campaigns file only year-end reports in non-election years, it's like that Mr. Brodkorb, in his role as deputy chair of the MNGOP, would have known of Towle's arrangement with the party. We can't fault the rest of the committee that wrote the credentialling rules of Mr. Towle's circumstances.
By 2012, the careers of both Brodkorb and Towle had changed greatly. Mr. Brodkorb, dismissed from his position as 2011 drew to a close, was suing the Senate as a whole for damages. Mr. Towle, for his part, had secured contracts with the DFL Senate Caucus. The DFL Senate Caucus won control of the chamber in the 2012 elections, and Mr. Towle's payments continued through January 2014. Mr. Brodkorb settled his lawsuit against the Senate as a whole in September 2013.
We do hope that the Senate will finally adher to the high standards set by the media credentialling committee in 2011, since the case of Mr. Towle, who was paid by both parties, can certainly confuse the matter. Moreover, the example makes the case for having the records at the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board searchable by vendor. [end note]
Via David Montgomery's post at the Pioneer Press's Political Animal blog, MN Senate tightens rules for press credentials and The Uptake's MN Senate Tightens Media Credential Rule, we learn that "“individuals affiliated with a political organization" can no longer be credentialled as journalists or keep their press pass at the Minnesota Senate.
Bluestem readers may recall our posts about this issue in Hired guns, part III: Senator David Senjem, the Post Bulletin and capitol media credentials and Hired guns, part IV: the MnSRC & Shawn Towle go to mattresses over capitol media credentials.
That’s a pretty broad definition, but the background appears to be related to a blogger named Shawn Towle, who received a Senate press pass while also being paid by the Senate DFL.
As we noted in our earlier posts (links above), Towle was first hired by the DFL Senate Caucus in 2012, before it took over the upper chambers following that year's election; he had been on contract with the Republican Party of Minnesota in 2010 and 2011. The 2011 payments for "political consulting" began shortly after the media credentialing policy was updated to include online journalists.
Republican senators made a stink about Towle in April of 2014, putting out a press release accusing DFL leader Tom Bakk of “secret payments” to Towle.
Introducing the proposed change today, Bakk described it as “something the rules committee had considerable conversation about near the end of the session last year.”
Mike McIntee at The Uptake have provided a video clip of Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) introducing the change:
Bluestem Prairie has not sought Minnesota Senate media credentials, as we don't fancy ourself to be a journalist. We are simply a poor country blog.
Photo: Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk.
If you appreciate Bluestem Prairie, you can mail contributions (payable to Sally Jo Sorensen P.O. Box 108, Maynard MN 56260) or use the paypal button below:
Email subscribers can contribute via this link to paypal; use email sally.jo.sorensen at gmail.com as recipient.