Category Archives: SD36

Why don’t Dave Thompson and the GOP understand the conflict of interest?

Tom Scheck and Catharine Richert of MPR published an article titled “Chairman’s spending decisions on insiders helped lead to GOP debt.”  The article features my own State Senator, and the candidate who defeated me, Stat Senator Dave Thompson of Lakeville.

Scheck and Richert document the unethical and nepotistic spending frenzy carried out by Tony Sutton and the GOP that helped lead to the Republican Party’s current $2,000,000 debt.  Yes, that is two million dollars in irresponsible debt owed by the party that claims the mantra of fiscally responsibility.  And do not get me started on what happened in 2001 when the Republicans rented out an amusement park for 500 people with a pyrotechnics show, paid $9K, and refused to pay $22K because the amount was not properly approved… Like I said do not get me started.

The entire story by Scheck and Richert is very interesting, but the section titled “PARTY INSIDERS AND CANDIDATES ON THE PAYROLL” was the most interesting to me.

First of all, my name is in that section of the article, so somebody brought it to my attention.  But my name is not what makes it interesting.  The interesting part is that the section discusses the unethical employment practice, unethical at least in the eyes of many, including the DFL which has a policy preventing it, of the Party hiring candidates running for office to fill party jobs, including candidate Dave Thompson.

State Senator Dave Thompson was paid $70,000 for “communications consulting.”  While we were running against each other, I knew he was working for Lee Byberg who was running for Congress up in the 7th district, but I knew nothing of his work for the Republican Party that he was being handsomely paid for.  No wonder he drives a Mercedes.

Obviously his work did not affect me, or my run, but how did it affect his run?  He defeated Farmington City Councilmember Christy Jo Fogerty, and Lakeville School Board Member Bob Erickson.  Did he get any extra Party help because he was being paid by the Republican Party?  Was there anything else unethical in how the voting was conducted?  Did Sutton and the Republican machine arrange his win?

Do I believe any of that?  No, but the most important thing when it comes to this sort of thing, outside of basic ethics and morals, is not to allow anything that could create a shadow of a doubt to outsiders.

Dave Thompson who was being paid by the Republican Party told the MPR reports: “I guess I never saw that as being any kind of conflict, and still don’t to this day.”  Not a conflict?  Hello… 

It is entirely a conflict.  State law forbids a candidate from paying himself for work for a reason.  Just because state law does not prohibit political parties from hiring candidates doesn’t mean it is ethical.  And it does not mean it shouldn’t be against the law.  The MPR story quoted Mike Dean of Common Cause Minnesota who said:

“…he believes the Republican Party of Minnesota is circumventing that law. ‘This practice doesn’t meet a smell test in terms of what is ethical,’ Dean said. ‘There should be a clear bright line that says candidates for office should not be paid by other candidates for office or political parties.’”

The big concern is that the party, or other candidates in conjunction with the party, could work to provide the candidate a means of livelihood while they campaign.  When I ran against Sen. Thompson, I worked until 5, drove home to Farmington in traffic, got home around 6, ate dinner with my family, then went out and door knocked for a couple hours, maybe visiting 10-20 houses before it got too late or too dark.  If I could have door knocked areas during the day because I was being paid by Lee Byberg, the Republican Party, or even another candidate with a surplus of funds for “contracted services,” maybe a few more votes could be had.

If the DFL thinks it is unethical, and if other groups think it is unethical, but the Republican Party doesn’t think it is unethical, or Dave Thompson doesn’t think it is a conflict, what is wrong with them?

The party of fiscal responsibility?  What a hypocritical group of jokers.  If anything has come out of recent elections, The Republican Party is the party of special interests and conflicts of interests.  The next thing you know they will try nominating for President a former Speaker of the House who wanted to prosecute a President for having an affair, while that Speaker of the House was having an affair…

Occupy Farmington? Me? An Occupier? Maybe…

Am an Occupier?  I’m not physically protesting anywhere.  I’m not camping anywhere.  I am not resisting anything.  But, I am fed up with the widening gap between the rich and the poor.  I’m fed up that the same people who ruined the economy are donating huge sums of money to political campaign slush fund PACs and special interest groups so they can have the opportunity to ruin the economy again.  I am fed up by the fact that those same people are doing everything they can to keep from paying their fair share while maintaining their own interests at the expense of the interests of those who can’t fight them.  And I am fed up that politicians in Washington and in state legislatures across this country, including Minnesota, are doing very little to fix or combat any of it.  I’m definitely one of the 99%.

Does that make me one of those Occupy protesters?  Maybe not, but my Representative Pat Garofalo made a Twitter joke that made me think about being one.
 
@PatGarofalo tweeted:  “So disappointed that #OccupyFarmington skipped out on my tax townhall with Commissioner Frans. 🙂 Great meeting about vision of state.” (Tweeted around 8:30 pm, 1/11/12)

I responded with my own tweet:

@Quist_Galaxie tweeted: “@PatGarofalo, I am probably about it for #OccupyFarmington, but I had church last night.  Sorry to disappoint.” (Tweeted around 9:30 am 1/12/12)

I know Rep. Garofalo was making a joke, he makes a lot of jokes.  And it’s good to have a sense of humor about politics, so I applaud him for that.  But his joke got me wondering about my community of Farmington.  How many people would join an Occupy Farmington event?  I thought that maybe I would be it.  Just me. 

My tweet was also a bit of joking, but it had truth in it too.  My political district that includes Farmington and Lakeville, is among the strongest Republican districts in the state.  Strong Republican voters, but I don’t really think a lot of people pay very much attention to politics, and very few are involved.  Sen. Dave Thomspon held a town hall meeting last year that was attended by just a few people.  As a candidate myself, very little of my help came from people I didn’t already know in my district, little money, and fewer volunteers.  I’m guessing it is not much different for the Republicans, it is probably a lot of the same people doing everything.

It is difficult to stay energized, and difficult to maintain interest.  The same people can’t keep doing things, burn out is inevitable.  I had big ideas, and got a lot of positive response from a lot of people, but it didn’t really amount to much.  So Occupy Farmington?  Yeah, maybe it is just me.

Dave Thompson Town Hall Meeting 9/24/11 10-11:30 Lakeville South High School

Senate District 36 Republican state Senator and Republican Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dave Thompson is holding a town hall meeting at Lakeville South High School on Saturday, September 24, from 10:00am – 11:30am.

Of course just like his last meeting, he scheduled it on a day that many of the local progressives are already participating in another event. The Lakeville Friends of the Environment Peddle in the Park is scheduled from 9:00-Noon on the same day.  Curious.

If you plan to attend the meeting is at:

Lakeville South – Lecture Hall
21135 Jacquard Avenue
Lakeville, MN 55044

If you attend, please consider posting a summary of the meeting here.

There is nothing illegal about auctioning off access to John Kline? Really? Nothing?!?

Down here in Senate District 36, we were trying to come up with an idea to raise some funds to help our 2012 candidates.  When we contacted the Campaign Finance Board with a couple ideas, we were told we could not do any kind of a raffle.  We ended up doing a silent auction. We had golf balls, buttons, mugs, signed books, you know the typical stuff.  One thing we didn’t have was a legislator.  Raffles are a no no, but apparently it is legal and acceptable to auction off access to congressmen and state legislators.

City Pages recent story “Carver County Republican Party tries to auction off legislators, then denies it” reports:

“There’s nothing illegal about auctioning off access to U.S. Congressmen and high-ranking state lawmakers to the highest bidder.”

I had no idea.  I would have just assumed that to be illegal.  I know you can have $2,000 a plate dinners, and special meet and great events based on donation levels, but the actual physical auction of a politician just seems extra dirty.

Sally Jo Sorensen and her news site Bluestem Prairie has done a great job of making this public. 

Sorensen wrote:

“While all of those who passed this on to Bluestem are registered lobbyists, without additional investigation, we cannot assert here that only lobbyists received an offer to bid on Republican legislators. We might also assume, for instance, that corporate CEOs, bank fat cats, private sector ALEC members, and other folks who who might wish to bid on chance to golf-with-a-shotgun with lawmakers, also have been given this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

And they don’t have to worry if they don’t have their own shotgun, shells or experience. The invitation continues:

If you are not able to attend this event, please do your contacts a favor and forward this email on to others that could benefit from this opportunity.”

Did you notice that last line?  I know the pronoun usage of “that” rather than “who” is grating, but not what I want you to concentrate on.  It says “forward this email on to others that could benefit from this opportunity.” This is definitely being promoted as an opportunity for somebody to have one-on-one access to somebody like John Kline, who might be willing to sell his vote, or introduce a law written by the lucky winner — an “opportunity” at least.

It is no wonder that the Carver County Republicans quickly removed this event when it became public.  This is obviously nothing more than a smarmy way to let the fat cats and insiders control Republican politics a little more, while the rest of us giving ten bucks to our favorite politicians get treated like little kids at one of those spinning twisting coin drop donation bins just hoping for a little personal gratification in the end.

Partisan Political Derangement

Between Friday and Monday, an interesting set of conversations took place that all seemed to coalesce into what I can only recognize as personal disgust with the current state of politics.

On Friday night, at the Senate District 36 DFL picnic in Lakeville, we were fortunate to have Franni Franken visiting our picnic and engaging with people in our group.  One of the stories she told, which I heard second hand, was that she and Senator Franken routinely have dinner with another Washington couple, who – get this (whispering) are Republicans… I know, can you believe that?!? 

At that same picnic, the account of one bad incident at the Lakeville Pan-O-Prog parade was also discussed.  The story was that as I was walking in the parade and introducing myself as a Candidate for State Senate.  I was approaching a group of about six kids between the ages of 8-12.  They asked me if I had any stickers.  I told them I didn’t but I could give them a high five, and I jogged toward the line of kids with raised hands for a high five.  Just as I was about to give a high five to a boy, a woman, I assume his mother, stood up so quickly her lawn chair fell down backwards and yanked him with enough force backwards by the shirt that she had to catch him so he didn’t fall on his butt.  Of course I don’t know exactly why she didn’t want me to give him a high five, but I can only assume she didn’t want him touching a Democrat.

Finally, the third conversation happened at a Monday morning Bible study I go to.  We don’t spend all our time discussing biblical scholarly work, there is a bit of social engagement within the group.  We started talking about the State Fair, and the milk booth came up, and the cost of the milk.  From free, to a nickel, to a dollar, depending on age and memory.  I brought up Rudy Boschwitz’s flavored milk booth.  I remember it being a quarter, and I remember several flavors, although root beer was the best.  And what I remember most vividly about that booth was being there with my Grandma Quist one year while she dug in her purse looking for more quarters. 

None of those stories have anything to do with each other, but all three together represent the serious problems we face politically.  And as I sat in traffic this morning on my way to work, I connected the three stories.  There are big groups of people that can’t separate a person and their political beliefs.  Al Franken and the Republican Senator he shares a monthly dinner with can do it.  My Grandma an ardent Democrat could buy milk from Rudy Boschwitz.  But that mom would rather give her child whiplash than risk the possibility of Democratic cooties infecting her son.  And that woman at the Lakeville parade wasn’t the only one, there was the man who slapped my friends arm who was reaching out a sticker to see if anybody wanted one, and the boos and vulgarity from people who didn’t know me in the least bit other than that the three letters DFL were associated with my name. 

This uber-partisanship is preventing work from getting done, deals from being made, the economy from improving, and preventing our communities from becoming better communities.  It needs to end.  These divisive political figures need to be rebuked for the damage they are causing.  But the only way that will happen is if moderates who are turned off by all of this partisan politics all of the sudden become active.  Not likely… (Sigh)