Tag Archives: Republican Party of Minnesota

Perfect Communication Example That Illustrates Why The DFL Wins And Republicans Lose

MPR’s Tim Pugmire wrote an article yesterday about an overhaul of tax policy for Minnesota possibly being in the works to make taxes simpler and fairer.

In the article there were two distinct differences in how Republicans talk and how Democrats talk, and I believe they are prime examples of why Republicans lost the legislature this year, and have little hope of getting it back soon.

Ann Lenczewski, the DFL’s new chairwoman of the House Tax Committee said of policy changes:

“I would hate to think Democrats would view the confluence of the majorities with the governor’s office as an OK to not work with Republicans and all Minnesotans,” she said. “So, hopefully the conversation will be inclusive and varied. That means there will be strong disagreement, and that’s OK.”

On the other side of the aisle, outgoing Republican chairman of the House Tax Committee Greg Davids said:

“Well, anytime someone says ‘tax fairness,’ that means increased taxes on everyone, and that’s exactly what the proposal will be.”

So we have the DFLer saying we need to work together to solve problems and create a long-term solution to continuous budget problems.  And on the other side we have a grown man stomping his feet and saying he won’t! he won’t! he won’t! like it even though he has no idea what the proposals will actually be.

It’s like two little kid sitting at the table with a plate of Christmas lutefisk in front of them.  One is pouting and refusing to even try it, and the other is saying, if I try it and don’t like it can I still have some lefse? Maybe that is a bad example… I’ll change it to brussel sprouts.  So the kid says if I try the lutefisk and don’t like it can I still have some brussel sprouts? (Cue rim shot!)

I think locally and nationally people spoke out against pledges that prevent compromise when trying to get important work done, like the no tax pledges Grover Norquist and Phil Krinkie requires. And I think people spoke out about political leaders not working together, being overtly antagonistic, and completely unable to get things done for partisan reasons. David Gregs must not understand that, and my fear is that David Hann may be worse in the Minnesota senate.

I just hope DFLers don’t do what Congressional Democrats did from 2008 to 2010, and keep trying to get along with Republicans, to their own detriment. I hope if Greg Davids wants to sit on the floor, whining and crying, they just ignore him and go about the business of making Minnesota stronger without his or the rest of the Republican’s help.

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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…

Partisan Political Attacks Create Angst and Apathy (in me)

I’ve noticed myself ignoring my unread item notices on Google Reader regularly recently.  I follow 14 blogs, most of them overtly political, the rest of them vaguely political, and all of them local.  Not only am I ignoring the unread notices on a regular basis, when I do decide to clean it up, I hardly read them, I just clear the unread notice.

I’m not sure if it is the current political subject matter that bores me, or if my recent political run has just jaded my outlook.  I do feel a little depressed based on the news.  Right now, you have the Chamber of Commerce in alliance with The Republican Party together attacking workers in what I see as a divide and conquer manner.  There is no chance that the assault on unions here in MN or WI is budget related or freedom related.  It is purely and simply politically motivated. 

The goal in the Republican ideology is to prevent unions from influencing elections.  But instead of passing laws to stop the influx of money influence in elections that might come from Unions, which by the way was dwarfed by the Chamber of Commerce, Republicans have decided to destroy unions with phony “right to work” laws designed specifically to bankrupt unions and constant blame for everything from lazy workers to them being “cause” or at least scapegoat for budget deficits.  But labor is not the issue, and it will not solve budget problems.  These “solutions” simply weaken workers and thus, to the delight of the Republican Party, it will eventually weaken a strong funding mechanism for progressive politics.

Side Note: Notice I said “progressive” and not Democratic politics.  Despite the demonization of the word progressive by Republicans, maybe I should say by Glenn Beck, the word progressive in politics is simply a word that labels a group that supports an agenda of political action to fix the problems plaguing our country.  Republicans were called progressives at one time, Teddy Roosevelt, Albert Cumming, Robert La Follette, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and his dissenting partner Justice Louis Brandeis, even Abe Lincoln was a progressive in action, if not by label.  But Democrats started out-progressing Republicans under Woodrow Wilson and later under Franklin Roosevelt.  As political parties are want-to-do, the Republicans couldn’t just agree, they had to counter and become more conservative.  If nothing else, grasp at straws to destroy.  Unions will support whoever supports workers, today and for three-quarters of a century is has been the Democrats who have been progressive on labor issues.

The problem is that we could solve everything without destroying the rights of workers and save a ton of money in society by passing election laws that limit election spending and create publicly financed elections.  How many millions of dollars could be saved and invested in a businesses and workers if as a state we weren’t spending many millions of dollars on lobbying and commercials to influence politics.

How much time would be saved in our legislature if legislators could just go ahead and vote with their conscience instead of based on their reelection campaign funding or based on the support they pledged to get an endorsement?  And how much better would our state be if legislators were beholden to all of their constituents instead of only their financial supporters?  How many more people would feel good about voting if they felt they had a voice instead of the feeling that the biggest spenders have control?

Maybe that sounds a bit jaded, but I am tired of what’s happening now and I’m tired of the snarky remarks and blame being tossed around, when the system is what is flawed.  I was recently the subject of a “comment lecture” on Facebook blaming Democrats for something Republicans were equally responsible for, if not more responsible for.  The partisan rancor is absurd, and at a point that drives the average person away from the political process, creating even more extreme ideas and extremist control in each party.  I specifically got involved in the DFL Party because of that.  And despite my growing angst about the rhetoric, I keep moving deeper in to the process.

I started this rant by mentioning blogs.  I did have a point.  The blog post I enjoyed reading the most recently had nothing to do with politics.  It was called Insecure About Money by Joey White at the blog Wide White.  It isn’t some major piece of great writing, but it is a subject I completely identify with.  I think that is what so many bloggers are missing right now, personal identification.  Popular blogs are filled with crazy and shrill remarks to draw readers.  A blog shouldn’t be a popularity contest or a ego builder, it should be honest opinions.  I don’t write about a DFL political agenda, although sometimes I think I should.  I write about what interests me and what are truly my opinions.

Joey and I have differing views on a lot of political issues, probably most issues, but he and I are very similar when it comes to partisan politics.  Using a quote Joey made on a blog post of mine he said “I realize partisan politics is really the only option in America, I just hate it.”  That’s why even despite our differences, I like his blog, he is honest and I respect him for his honest conviction and opinions.  I’m not sure I always get that from the extremists on either side.

I know what my right-wing attackers are thinking.  On my blog I attack Tim Pawlenty and John Kline regularly, as well as “Republicans!” in general.  But that is because I see so much hypocritical Republican Party politics in them.  Party agenda first, constituents second.  I respect Republicans who have honest beliefs that jive with the party.  I don’t have a problem with the conservative agenda if that is what you believe in, that doesn’t mean I have to like it or agree with it, but I believe you have a right to work toward and think that way, just like I have the right and deserve the respect for my beliefs.  It is that partisan rhetoric and attack that needs to stop.  We need to be honest and respectful, and we need to stop thinking one side is always right and one side is always wrong.  There is a middle ground and there can be compromise.  There are adequate solutions that will make the state, nation and world a better place, that do not rely on one single political outcome.

I got to interview former congressman, Minneapolis mayor and state legislator Don Fraser for a project I am going to work on, and the thing I really liked was his discussion on political parties in the state.  He said state legislators were not aligned with parties until recently.  Just like city council races, all races were nonpartisan elections.  He felt that was a good thing because there were bills that two people would be on complete opposite sides of an issue, and in debate on the next bill be strong allies.  That can’t happen now.  Partisan politics prevents it.  Look at the override 6 here in Minnesota, Blanche Lincoln, Joe Lieberman, Richard Lugar, Orin Hatch and the term RINO in general.

I think I’ve rambled long enough here, and I fear my blog is reaching the end of its usefulness.  I find myself becoming more cynical about politics and more cynical about the extremist actions of many politicians today, especially those aligned with the Chamber of Commerce.  I find it harder to pay attention, and am less willing to, even when it is a person I support.  I strongly believe in the ideals of inclusiveness, equality and justice, and the DFL fits with where I am right now, I’m just not sure this is the best avenue for my work, the problem is based on my short time experience with the State DFL Central Committee, I’m not sure the DFL is either.  I guess local is the way to go.

That may be my longest post ever, and if you got this far, I think I am sorry…

Coming Soon – The (MNGOP) Anointed One

When I made a joke a few months ago about the Republican candidate being the “anointed one,” I was only half joking.  It often seems that major Republican candidates are not selected in a democratic manner.  Rather, they seem to be chosen or agreed upon by the party leaders.  Mayor Norm Coleman had an eye on the governor’s mansion and, from what I have heard, State Senate Minority Leader Tim Pawlenty had an eye on the U.S. Senate.  Then something happened (rumors are Dick Cheney was involved), and Norm ran for senator and T-Paw ran for governor without serious opposition.
 
The last few weeks had me thinking that maybe I was wrong about the Republicans.  There are a dozen or so GOP gubernatorial candidates, and, so far, none of them has huge name recognition.  I thought, “Great — maybe there will actually be a fight in the GOP that rivals the normal process in the DFL.”

Then I read this, posted on “Captol Chatter.” 

GOP stops half-done Farmfest poll

Minnesota Republicans stopped a straw poll for governor halfway through the annual Farmfest event this week.

“A straw poll was started but stopped because the state chair had not authorized it,” state Republican spokesman Mark Drake said. “We didn’t want to take attention away from our sanctioned state convention poll in October.”

Governor candidate state Rep. Marty Seifert of Marshall, who grew up near the southwestern Minnesota farm event, said he was told the poll was halted ‘apparently because it favored me. … They felt there was too much bias in favor of me.’

The straw poll was being conducted in the GOP’s Farmfest booth. Results of the aborted poll were not released.

Republicans plan a rare non-election year convention on Oct. 3, with one of the main draws being a governor’s race straw poll. About a dozen Republicans are running.”

Typical.  The Republican leadership does not want the Farmfest masses to support a candidate not of their choosing.  Instead, the Republican leadership will select a candidate and tell their “Sam’s Club Republicans” who they should vote for.
 
I’m back to believing that the “anointed one” is coming.  I expect to hear about it around Oct. 3.

More Republican Hypocrisy

It is not surprising to me that as Republicans criticize Al Franken, they are dealing with their own fiscal problems as documented in the StarTribune’s May 8, 2008, “State GOP has its own bookkeeping woes” by Pat Doyle and Dan Browning.

Republicans are very good at saying one thing and doing another.

I may seem overly sarcastic when it comes to the Republican party touting fiscal responsibility, but I have very good first hand knowledge of their lack of fiscal responsibility.

I worked for a company that provided conference space, catering and entertainment for a Republican event close to ten years ago. The total bill was over $50,000. The republican party of Minnesota paid less than half, then claimed the person who organized the event was not authorized to spend that much and they were not going to pay the rest.

Ron Eibensteiner, the Chair of the MNGOP wrote a personal check for $9,000, and our company wrote the rest off.

It was sickening a couple weeks later when I saw Eibensteiner on Almanac talking about how the Republican party was the only party who could control spending.