1/27/2005 03:19:00 AM|W|P|Minnesota Democrats Exposed|W|P|
Failed congressional candidate Janet Robert and former congressman Bill Luther partying at the captiol
Former congressman Bill Luther helping himself to some wine
Please click on the pictures for a larger view
Remember KMSP 9's story about DFLers drinking at the state capitol during session? The main culprit caught on film was DFL Representative Scott Wasiluk, who was later defeated in the primary election.
But after further examination Luther is clearly seen pouring himself a glass of wine. Luther is refered to as a "lobbyist" by KMSP 9's reporter.
I would again like to thank the many Republicans and Democrats who email tips and information to me (like the information used in this post) for use on Minnesota Democrats Exposed.|W|P|110682475775279732|W|P|IS THIS LUTHER'S LAST CALL?|W|Pfirstname.lastname@example.org/27/2005 02:18:00 AM|W|P|Minnesota Democrats Exposed|W|P|Bush writes off Dayton's claims
He also downplays inaugural remarks on ending tyranny
President Bush dismissed Sen. Mark Dayton's accusation that his administration has lied "repeatedly, flagrantly, intentionally" about Iraq, telling reporters Wednesday, "there are 99 senators other than that person."
Bush's remarks came at a White House news conference where the president also declared that his soaring inaugural vow to expand freedom and end tyranny around the world wasn't a major shift in U.S. foreign policy.
His comment about Dayton came after a reporter noted, "You had a Democratic senator (Dayton) basically call your secretary of state nominee a liar."
That occurred Tuesday, as the Senate debated whether to confirm Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state. Speaking on the Senate floor, Dayton, D-Minn., charged that Rice and the Bush administration had a record of "lying to Congress, lying to our committees and lying to the American people" concerning Iraq.
Asked about it, Bush replied: "Well, there are 99 senators other than that person. And I'm looking forward to working with as many members as we can. Condi Rice is a fine, fine public servant, greatly admired."
Calls and e-mails flooding Dayton's office Wednesday were "overwhelmingly" in support of his statement, said spokeswoman Chris Lisi. However, she added, "We have received a handful of phone calls that Senator Dayton is a racist because he's opposing an African-American woman."
Republicans in both Minnesota and Washington were quick to criticize Dayton, who is up for re-election in 2006. The Minnesota Republican Party ripped Dayton's "wild-eyed rants against Condoleezza Rice on the Senate floor."
At the news conference, Bush downplayed a statement in his inaugural address last week that future American relations with "every ruler and every nation" would depend on their observance of human rights. On Wednesday, he said, "I don't think foreign policy is an either-or proposition," and contended that human rights is but one U.S. concern among many other practical objectives.
Bush's remarks amplified efforts by lower administration officials that began the day after the inauguration to correct the widespread impression that he'd proclaimed a new manifesto that, if followed, could put America at odds with repressive governments that are also key U.S. allies in the war against terrorism and other global priorities.
The president also mourned the deaths of 30 Marines and a sailor in a helicopter crash Wednesday in western Iraq. Source: Pioneer Press, January 27, 2005
|W|P|110682142269585447|W|P|MAKING MINNESOTANS PROUND: SENATOR DAYTON CALLED "THAT OTHER PERSON" BY PRESIDENT BUSH|W|Pemail@example.com/27/2005 01:26:00 AM|W|P|Minnesota Democrats Exposed|W|P|I never would have guessed that Dayton scored low on 'schmoozability' scales.
"Dayton's speech about Rice and the veracity of the administration obviously had no impact on the Senate. On Wednesday, senators voted 85 to 13 to confirm Rice.
The one-sided nature of the vote could be seen as underscoring the commonly held view that Dayton, who is up for reelection in 2006, is a vulnerable target for the Republican Party.
But it is just as possible to see him as a national leader of opposition to the administration.
Right off, that may seem an absurd proposition. Dayton doesn't create tingles of excitement -- except among Republicans eager to run against him. He has jarring syntax (it's more powerful to read a Dayton speech than to hear one). And he grades low on 'schmoozability' scales." Source: Star Tribune, January 27, 2005
|W|P|110681902540497953|W|P|DOUG GROW: "DAYTON DOESN'T CREATE TINGLES OF EXCITEMENT"|W|Pfirstname.lastname@example.org/26/2005 06:18:00 PM|W|P|Minnesota Democrats Exposed|W|P|Minneapolis Mayor Raymond Thomas (R.T.) Rybak will announce he is running for re-election this Sunday, January 30. The event will be held at Franklin Art Works located at 1021 East Franklin Avenue.
Rybak's timing couldn't be worse as he will likely be questioned by the press about his illegal newsletter.
|W|P|110679328977476981|W|P|DOES EVERYBODY LOVE RAYMOND?|W|Pemail@example.com/26/2005 01:59:00 PM|W|P|Minnesota Democrats Exposed|W|P|3 more city officials warned about newsletters
Three Minneapolis City Council members joined Mayor R.T. Rybak on the list of officials who ought to partially reimburse taxpayers for illegal newsletters, the state auditor said Tuesday.
Two of the DFL leaders joined the mayor in questioning the motives of Republican state Auditor Pat Anderson, who responded bluntly.
"Crying that they're being picked on is ludicrous," she said. "They need to simply own up to the issue and deal with it."
Anderson said that she'll be monitoring the city and that if the reimbursements don't meet an acceptable threshold she will refer the matter to county prosecutors.
Anderson last week singled out Rybak for his glossy eight-page newsletter featuring five pictures of himself. Then she said she received more phone calls from constituents and looked at council members' annual newsletters. She found three to be problematic, those belonging to Lisa Goodman, Gary Schiff and Paul Zerby.
"The issue is whether it is meant to look like it was attributed to one person," she said.
The three council members all featured photos of themselves and referred to things they had done in the first person, Anderson said. But she also noted that none of the violations were as flagrant as Rybak's.
The city is going to take action, drawing up guidelines for future newsletters, but, with the exception of Zerby, no one appears ready to reimburse taxpayers.
Zerby said he will pay back a portion of the cost of the newsletter, for the use of one small picture of himself, if the city attorney's office deems he should. By his own calculations, his mug shot made up a tiny fraction of the $864 in printing costs.
Goodman, who has sent an annual newsletter for seven years at an annual cost of about $3,000, and Schiff, who has sent three, including one in Spanish, were more defiant.
"I am proud of that newsletter, and I'm not going to be defensive about it because it is a service to my constituents and I have never had a complaint about it," Goodman said. "So I question the timing of it."
Of Anderson, Schiff said, "I think her new inquiry into this area raises more questions than it answers. I guess she's explaining what's a violation and what isn't. There's no clear, consistent message coming through of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable."
On the issue of reimbursement, Rybak spokeswoman Laura Sether said, "We're going to make that decision in consultation with our attorneys and other independent nonpartisan advisers."
Other cities OK
Since the news last week of Rybak's election-year, first-ever newsletter, Anderson said, she has received many calls about Minneapolis and other cities, but that the others, including her hometown of Eagan, were deemed in compliance.
"Everybody is looking at everybody's newsletter at this point," she said. "City Council members are simply not allowed to send out a city-funded newsletter that attributes the publication to them and not to the government unit they represent.
"Clearly the city of Minneapolis needs to create a policy so that taxpayer dollars are no longer misspent on publications that violate Minnesota state law."
She determined other newsletters to be in compliance with the law, including those sent by Minneapolis Council President Paul Ostrow, Council Vice President Robert Lilligren and Council Members Scott Benson, Sandy Colvin Roy and Barret Lane.
"Most cities and counties know this law inside and out. That's why it's surprising," Anderson said.
Ostrow said that, sooner rather than later, the city will look at the issue of how to comply with the statute, but that he does not plan to initiate reimbursement demands.
The issue has caught the attention of state DFL and GOP officials.
The Republicans called on Rybak to pay back the cost of the newsletter, while DFL Chair Mike Erlandson said he is looking into the scope of the auditor's duties.
"Are we looking at the auditor's office in response to her latest politically motivated letters? Yes," he said.
Anderson responded that it's part of her job. "The state auditor has fiscal oversight over local units of government," she said. "That's the entire purpose of the state auditor's job."
She also noted that the law governing newsletters was pushed by U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, when he was state auditor 13 years ago.
"No matter who is serving in the state auditor's office, it's very clear this is a violation," she said. Source: Star Tribune, January 26, 2005
|W|P|110677716105187129|W|P|AUDITOR: MORE DFLers USING TAXPAYER MONEY FOR ILLEGAL NEWSLETTERS|W|Pfirstname.lastname@example.org/25/2005 08:33:00 AM|W|P|Minnesota Democrats Exposed|W|P|Will Senator Mark Dayton be challenged for re-election in 2006 by another Democrat? If you want to know, don't ask DFL Party Chair Mike Erlandson.
"While no one is certain who the Republican nominee will be, Erlandson says Minnesota Democrats are solidly behind Dayton. 'I see nobody talking or even inclining to run against him,' Erlandson said in response to rumors of an intraparty challenge." Source: Roll Call, January 25, 2005
Not so fast Mike. Dayton v. Kennedy had a post on Saturday about Bob Novak's column on the 2006 Senate race in Minnesota. Novak reports that former congressman Bill Luther may run against Dayton.
"In addition to money problems, Dayton slumped in the polls after he alone among U.S. senators closed his Washington offices because of an alleged terrorist threat. Former Rep. Bill Luther is considering a Democratic primary challenge against Dayton. The senator's Republican opponent is expected to be a well-funded Rep. Mark Kennedy." Source: Town Hall, January 22, 2005
|W|P|110666965162422023|W|P|LUTHER v. DAYTON?|W|Pemail@example.com/25/2005 06:48:00 AM|W|P|Minnesota Democrats Exposed|W|P|When the real reason the Senate Democrats have picked Dayton to lead their prescription drug efforts is so obvious and is highlighted in the article, are the really helping him?
Dayton to head Democrats' drug policy effort
Sen. Mark Dayton, whose advocacy of lower prescription drug prices for seniors helped propel him into the U.S. Senate in 2000, announced Monday that he will be the lead senator in the Democratic minority on the issue of prescription drugs as he heads into a reelection cycle.
Flanked by about 25 senior activists from Minnesota in the State Capitol, Dayton unveiled a sweeping proposal that essentially rewrites the Bush administration's legislation of a year ago. Its chief feature is authorizing the federal government to act as a bargaining agent for 41 million Medicare beneficiaries and to negotiate lower prices with pharmaceutical companies.
"This is about survival," Dayton said. "People are being ravaged by escalating drug prices that are out of control." He charged that Bush's prescription drug policies essentially have been written by pharmaceutical companies and other corporate health-care interests.
Dayton said that his multifaceted proposal would be "the major reform legislation of the Democratic caucus in the next year." It includes provisions that would lower Medicare premiums, reduce gaps in coverage and prevent seniors from being forced into HMOs against their will.
"This has 2006 written all over it," said Steve Schier, a political science professor at Carleton College in Northfield. "They're [Senate Democratic leaders] trying to help Mark out."
But Democratic leaders said Dayton is an ideal sponsor for their party's central Medicare prescription drug proposal in Congress because he has long been a champion of seniors and a critic of President Bush's prescription drug overhaul.
"He's been one of the most articulate critics of the Bush Medicare bill, so he's been asked to sponsor our attempts to move forward with this legislation," said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Congressional Democrats, most of whom voted against Bush's 2003 Medicare prescription drug plan, opposed its increasing reliance on private health plans and complained that the promised benefits would not go far enough. At the same time, some conservative Republicans balked at the $400 billion minimum price tag of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, which begins in 2006.
A spokesman for the Minnesota Republican Party, Randy Wanke, said Dayton likely would not be a major player in any policy area, "because he has marginalized himself to the degree he is ineffective."
A winning issue
In the 2000 Senate race, Dayton, a former state auditor who failed in a 1982 bid for the Senate, was considered an underdog, despite his personal wealth as a department store heir. But he latched on to the fast-rising costs of drugs, took busloads of senior citizens to Canada to buy cheaper medicines and focused on the issue in TV ads. The tactic built a strong base of support among older voters, those most likely to vote, and helped Dayton beat a crowded field of DFLers in the primary and then incumbent Republican Rod Grams in the general election.
Since then, leading Minnesota Republicans, notably Gov. Tim Pawlenty and U.S. Rep. Gil Gutknecht, have bucked the Bush administration on prescription drug issues, particularly the issue of reimportation of cheaper drugs from Canada.
Dayton's bill would address some of the critics' concerns by allowing Washington to negotiate prescription drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies, something the GOP bill explicitly forbade.
"The best way to achieve cost savings with a Medicare drug benefit is by having private health plans negotiate discounts with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies," said Jeff Trewhitt, spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the main industry lobby group in Washington.
Dayton staffers said his bill would lower premiums for some Medicare recipients by eliminating the estimated $12 billion in subsidies the Bush plan contains for HMOs that administer drug benefits.
Dayton's bill would not reduce the $250 annual deductible and $35 monthly premiums that are scheduled to take effect for seniors who get the new Medicare drug benefit next year. Instead, Dayton would gradually eliminate the current law's scheduled gap in drug cost coverage between $2,200 and $3,600.
Dayton's bill does not address drug reimportation, but he co-sponsored a separate health care bill Monday with Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., that would legalize it for individuals. Source: Star Tribune, January 25, 2005
|W|P|110666563417101160|W|P|SENATE DEMOCRATS COME TO THE AID OF MARK DAYTON|W|Pfirstname.lastname@example.org/25/2005 12:34:00 AM|W|P|Minnesota Democrats Exposed|W|P|Article prompts hearings on '527' political donations
In response to a Star Tribune article Monday about the growing influence of political spending by "527" organizations, state Rep. Jeff Johnson, R-Plymouth, said Monday he will hold committee hearings to look into increasing state oversight of the groups.
Spending by 527s, which is difficult to track, doubled in Minnesota between the 2002 and 2004 elections. One group, the 21st Century Democrats, was hit with a record $316,000 penalty by Minnesota regulators who found the group should have disclosed its contributors to the state.
No legislation or specific policies have been proposed, but Johnson said it was "important to find out first about the power these 527 organizations wield." Johnson is chairman of the House Civil Law and Elections Committee.
The hearings might turn into a bit of a partisan ruckus.
Activity by 527s in Minnesota was dominated by Democrats. Moreover, Republicans have criticized House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, DFL-St. Paul, for his personal $300,000 contribution to the 21st Century Democrats, which worked on youth turnout and directly for House DFLers.
Entenza strongly disputes GOP claims that he tried to conceal his contributions until after the election. "We welcome any opportunity to talk about finance campaign reform; the Republican caucus has blocked almost all campaign finance reform bills for years," said Glen Fladeboe, public affairs director for the House DFL caucus. Source: Star Tribune, January 25, 2005
|W|P|110664257821263687|W|P|HOUSE GOP PLANS HEARINGS ON 527 GROUPS|W|Pemail@example.com/24/2005 08:19:00 AM|W|P|Minnesota Democrats Exposed|W|P|
|W|P|110658359232066538|W|P|RYBAK'S ILLEGAL NEWSLETTER|W|Pfirstname.lastname@example.org/24/2005 03:11:00 AM|W|P|Minnesota Democrats Exposed|W|P|I took advantage of technical difficulties I was experiencing and decided to change the look of my blog. Over the next few days I will be adding new features and links.
For example on the right side of the front page you will notice that I have a section dedicated to each of my favorate Minnesota Democrats. Under their name you will see the most recent posts about this person or organizations. The list of people and organizations featured will change.
Please check back for more updates.
|W|P|110656584914361645|W|P|NEW FEATURES ON MDE|W|Pemail@example.com/23/2005 11:59:00 PM|W|P|Minnesota Democrats Exposed|W|P|Law fails to stem political cash tide
Last fall about 150 Minnesota workers in health care and other service industries took unpaid leaves from their jobs to campaign for John Kerry and then were reimbursed through their national union's "527" group, which spent some $1.7 million in Minnesota.
Meanwhile, many Minnesota voters were watching more than $700,000 worth of anti-Kerry or pro-George Bush television ads, all bought by another 527, the Progress for America Voter Fund, with links to Bush.
More than three dozen 527 groups spent at least $4.2 million in Minnesota before the 2004 election -- twice as much as they spent in the 2002 cycle -- according to a summary prepared for the Star Tribune by the Center for Public Integrity. And that total probably is an undercount. The biggest national 527 of all, America Coming Together, spent an estimated $4 million in Minnesota, but it did so indirectly through its national political action committee.
Controversy over the explosive growth of 527s was one of the major sideshows of the last election. It became especially sharp in Minnesota in December, when the national 21st Century Democrats was penalized more than $300,000 for failing to disclose its donors to the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. It is believed to be one of the largest penalties assessed by any state so far against national 527s.
Rivers of money from 527 groups flowed virtually unchecked into all states, and the phenomenon is provoking a call for more inquiry and perhaps more legislation to regulate their activities. Everybody involved seems to agree that the laws pertaining to 527s are complex, even bewildering.
"527s have become the new Laundromats for political money," said David Schultz, a Hamline University professor and an expert in campaign finance. "There are at least four or five different ways to put money into politics, lots of combinations and conduits, and all these permutations are making it impossible to find out how much has been spent."
Lawmakers at the state and federal levels aren't likely to act too soon after the McCain-Feingold legislation put restrictions on the flow of money into political parties. Many experts and watchdog groups describe McCain-Feingold as a dam that created a new 527 channel. But at least one Minnesota legislator is calling for action at the state level.
"Our campaign finance laws need to be tightened," said state Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, a veteran who helped push through major state campaign and ethics overhauls about a decade ago. "Laws have become so convoluted and everybody has found so many ways around them that the public shrugs its shoulders. People don't understand what's happening and both parties are using the confusion to their advantage."
Officials representing 527s on both sides respond that they are simply playing by the rules established by the McCain-Feingold overhaul. Ten of the top dozen 527s were linked to the Democratic Party, and about 80 percent of the 527 money spent in Minnesota was by Democrats.
Democratic-tied 527 leaders say most of their spending was of the wholesome variety: turning out voters and grassroots organizing, rather than TV ads. "We were very proud that we were able to work with a number of fantastic groups doing great work in the state and around the country," said Robert Richman, state director for America Coming Together, the dominant 527 in Minnesota.
However, the 527s -- named for the section of federal tax law that authorizes the supposedly nonpartisan political interest groups -- have mostly avoided state scrutiny. In Minnesota they aren't required to register or otherwise disclose activities with the state campaign finance office unless they contribute more than $100 toward legislative or statewide races or ballot initiatives.
Their reports to the Internal Revenue Service offer few clues as to whether they are complying with state law. As a result, the groups have wide discretion in determining whether to register with the state or not, and most don't.
"Groups that didn't file, who knows what they were up to?" said Aron Pilhofer, who co-authored a report on 527 spending for the Center for Public Integrity in Washington. "They may very well have been doing activities that could have triggered a [state] filing requirement. But ... you have to sort of throw your hands up ... and say, 'We can't really tell.'"
Crossing state lines
Underscoring the point about confusion, one of the most active 527 spenders in Minnesota was the Democratic group called America Coming Together. Yet it doesn't even show up on the Public Integrity top 12.
That's because, unlike most other 527s, ACT transferred much of its national $79 million in contributions to a traditional federal political action committee, so that its spending shows up on Federal Election Commission reports rather than those of the IRS, which collects 527 reports.
The ACT PAC's disclosure statements with the commission show that it spent almost $1.7 million for individuals and organizations in Minnesota, which would put it near the top of the state list.
But that figure doesn't nearly account for all the real political activity. ACT director Richman, who also is co-owner of a political consulting firm that received money from several Democratic 527s, estimates that ACT actually spent about $4 million in Minnesota.
What accounts for the difference? Spending disclosures show the addresses of entities to whom checks are made out, not necessarily where the activity is taking place. Thus, if a Chicago-based telemarketer gets the contract for phoning in Minnesota, the disclosure shows up as an Illinois expenditure, not as Minnesota spending. Richman said much of the Minnesota activity by ACT was in fact administered by out-of-state vendors.
Several of the top Minnesota 527s on the Public Integrity list actually were paying for work in other states. They included Planned Parenthood Votes, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, and the Organizing and Campaign Training Center.
More fines possible?
Regulators are just coming to grips with the 527 growth. The heavy fine on the 21st Century Democrats raises questions about whether more 527s might be in for fines from the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. The group was fined was fined $317,500 for contributing an equal sum to its Minnesota committee to influence DFL House campaigns while not being registered with the state.
Citing state laws that require confidentiality on such complaints, Board Chairman Wil Fluegel said he could "neither confirm nor deny that we're investigating anyone." At the federal level, although the FEC already has placed some new restrictions on 527s starting with the 2006 election cycle, there are still a number of ways to get around these limitations, Public Integrity's Pilhofer said. Several lawmakers, including Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Russell Feingold, D-Wis., who were the authors of the campaign finance reform law, have already moved to introduce legislation to rein in 527s. Source: Star Tribune, January 24, 2005
|W|P|110655438817263691|W|P|LIBERAL 527's MORE ACTIVE IN MINNESOTA THAN PREVIOULSY KNOWN|W|Pfirstname.lastname@example.org/21/2005 11:43:00 PM|W|P|Minnesota Democrats Exposed|W|P|Auditor: Rybak newsletter is illegal
State Auditor Pat Anderson on Friday called on Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak to reimburse the city for his recent $42,000 newsletter because she believes it violates state law.
"While it is appropriate for a city to send out a newsletter to communicate with its residents, it is clear that glossy ... photographs of the mayor and a glowing recitation of his accomplishments do not meet that purpose," Anderson wrote. "Frankly, Mayor Rybak should have saved this brochure for his campaign."
Anderson said she saw the brochure after getting a complaint from a constituent late Thursday and reading about it in the newspaper. She said City Attorney Jay Heffern and the City Council should determine how much Rybak should repay the city for the cost of the newsletter, of which 172,000 copies were made and a copy distributed to each Minneapolis household.
Rybak did not respond directly. His spokeswoman Laura Sether said it's common for elected officials to publish newsletters. "The use of photographs in such pieces is a gray area in state law," she said. "We would welcome any clarification that would apply to all such publications. Our intent is the same as everyone else's -- to inform constituents of issues that directly affect them."
As to whether Rybak would reimburse the city, Sether said, "We will abide by any standard that is applied fairly to all."
The newsletter is the first from Rybak in the three years he has been in office. It comes at the beginning of an election year, as the mayor is facing a challenge from Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin. Deputy Mayor David Fey said the timing was a matter of money, that this was the first time the office had enough to put out a newsletter.
But Anderson called Rybak's letter the "most flagrant" violation of state law she had seen during her two years in office. While the law allows politicians to inform the general public of activities, it also says, the "report or publication must not include pictures of elected officials nor any other pictorial or graphic device that would tend to attribute the publication to an individual or group of individuals instead of the political subdivision."
Rybak's eight-page newsletter includes five pictures of the mayor. "The fact that the front headline includes a picture of Mayor Rybak and that the heading on every page includes the words, 'News from Mayor R.T. Rybak' certainly appears to attribute the newsletter to Mayor Rybak and not the city," Anderson said.
Council President Paul Ostrow said he won't be asking Rybak to reimburse the city. "We all send out newsletters," he said. "I'm in the process of sending one out. The issue is always sharing information with constituents about the activities of the city. That kind of information is valid."
He said Rybak's newsletter appears to be "primarily informational."
But Council Ways and Means chairwoman Barbara Johnson said, "I was disappointed. I think it [the newsletter] showed poor judgment." Johnson, who is supporting Rybak's reelection bid, said that if Anderson said the council needs to take action on the reimbursement issue, it will.
Anderson said that while it's common for cities and counties to send out newsletters, this one is problematic because it appears to come directly from Rybak.
"At a time when Minneapolis is having difficulties funding cops, the Office of the Mayor is spending $42,000 of taxpayer funds for the production and mailing of a newsletter that violates state law," Anderson said.
Sether questioned whether Anderson, a Republican, was singling out Rybak for criticism because he's a DFLer and whether Anderson had looked into what Republican mayors send to constituents.
Anderson categorically rejected the suggestion of a partisan motive, and added that her office has received complaints about other newsletters but found them to be legal. Auditors also check newsletters regularly for compliance when they're auditing local governments, she said.
"The purpose of a city letter is to inform the public of city issues, it's not to promote an elected official," Anderson said. "In most cities, the attorneys take a look at the final draft to make sure that's not the case."
Anderson has no enforcement powers but said the mayor's office would be "written up" in an audit by her office. Source: Star Tribune, January 22, 2005
|W|P|110637787582455806|W|P|STATE AUDITOR SAYS RYBAK NEWSLETTER IS ILLEGAL|W|Pemail@example.com/21/2005 11:29:00 PM|W|P|Minnesota Democrats Exposed|W|P|If they haven't closed the office again, Dayton's staff should answer the phone that way.
Lining up to run against Dayton
Sen. Mark Dayton's job is suddenly getting very popular.
On Thursday, Rep. Gil Gutknecht, R-Minn., said that he's considering a run against the Minnesota Democrat in 2006. Gutknecht made the move as his colleague, GOP Rep. Mark Kennedy, continues to ponder his possible candidacy.
With the election more than 21 months away, there's plenty of time for other Republican candidates to surface. Among the names most often discussed: Gov. Tim Pawlenty (who says he's not interested), Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, former gubernatorial candidate Brian Sullivan and former Rep. Vin Weber.
Even without an announced opponent, there are signs that Dayton is facing a political challenge in 2006.
Of the 18 Democratic Senate incumbents whose terms expire at the end of next year, Dayton is considered the weakest, and his race is the only Democratic contest ranked as a toss-up, according to the Cook Political Report, which handicaps congressional races.
"I think almost anybody can make a race against Dayton," said Jennifer Duffy, who analyzes Senate races for the Cook report. "He's got his share of issues, not the least of which is money."
Dayton, a multimillionaire, financed his own campaign in 2000 but is raising money from donors this time. He collected $1.3 million last year and said a lack of money won't be an issue in 2006.
Dayton is predicting a brutal campaign, saying Republicans -- including third-party groups -- will spend $30 million to $40 million in an attempt to win his seat. And he expects the contest to take on a national profile, much like the South Dakota contest last year that resulted in defeat for the Democratic Senate leader Tom Daschle.
"I wouldn't go into this if I didn't know that I have to raise a lot of money, and I will raise whatever amount of money I need to win," Dayton said.
As he begins his fifth year in the Senate, Dayton is a marked man on Capitol Hill, with his opponents watching his every move.
James Dobson, the evangelical leader who urged millions of his Christian followers to vote for President Bush last year, issued a warning to Dayton earlier this month. He said that if Dayton doesn't vote for the president's Supreme Court picks and other judicial nominees, he will be in the "bull's-eye" when he tries to win a second term next year.
And as a "public service," the conservative Washington Times editorial page promised to scrutinize and publicize Dayton's votes on judges and other "pivotal issues," saying widespread exposure of Daschle's record helped topple him.
Dayton said Dobson and other conservatives are "trying to bully and bulldoze anybody who opposes their agenda." He said it's natural that Republicans would target his race because with a 55-45 majority in the Senate, Republicans need only five more seats to render Democrats powerless.
With 60 votes, Republicans would have enough votes to stop Democratic filibusters, eliminating their most potent legislative weapon.
"This is a takeover of the federal government, and not just by the Republican Party," said Dayton. "This is an extremist social agenda that is far beyond anything that we've seen in this country in my political and public lifetime."
Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, described Dayton as "highly vulnerable" to defeat. He said Dayton hurt himself politically by closing his Washington office last year when he feared a possible strike by terrorists.
"I think he's developing something of a reputation for eccentricity," added Duffy, referrrng to the office-closing. Republicans are ready to use the issue against Dayton.
'Didn't sit well'
"A lot of folks are focusing on him ... because he is vulnerable," said Ron Eibensteiner, chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party. "I believe he is very out of step with Minnesota voters. His closing of the office was silly. That's the best way I can describe it. And it didn't sit very well with people in Minnesota."
He said that Dayton's decision amounted to "cutting and running."
Dayton, who defeated Republican Sen. Rod Grams in 2000, said he has no regrets about closing his office because he was only trying to protect his staff. He said he hopes the 2006 campaign is focused on issues, but he expects to get the same treatment as Daschle and former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, who was defeated in 2002.
"I saw what they did to Tom Daschle at the end," Dayton said. "They just buried him in sewage. And I saw what they did to my friend, Max Cleland, in 2002 in the last two weeks, where they put a man [Cleland] who lost three limbs in Vietnam up on a television ad with Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden and said, 'Here are three enemies of the people of Georgia.' And they defeated him. So I have no illusions about how vicious and how politically powerful and how well-funded the whole right-wing extremist movement will be and how it will be used against me."
Duffy said she expects Republicans to campaign against Dayton by saying he's been ineffective and has few legislative accomplishments. Dayton replied that if the Senate had passed his proposals, the United States would have a comprehensive prescription-drug plan for senior citizens, more funding for special education and a tax bill "that doesn't give away the future of this country."
Eibsensteiner called Dayton an "inarticulate liberal." He said that while it's never easy to beat an incumbent senator, Republicans believe they have a good chance of picking up Dayton's seat.
"There's absolutely no question that this is going to be a hard-fought race," said Mike Erlandson, chair of the Minnesota DFL Party. He said that Dayton remains as popular in public opinion polls as Pawlenty and that Minnesotans appreciate his independent, straight-shooting style and the fact that "he doesn't talk out of both sides of his mouth."
Erlandson predicted that Dayton will end up running against the biggest Republican name in Minnesota.
"I think he's going to be running against Tim Pawlenty," said Erlandson. "It wouldn't surprise me: This is a guy who was on his way to the press conference to announce he was running for the United States Senate when he got turned in the other direction."
Pawlenty ended up running for governor after the White House asked him not to run for the Senate against the late Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone. Eibensteiner said that rumors about Pawlenty running for the Senate persist because many big-name Washington Republicans would like to see him run.
"I can tell you that people like Karl Rove ... and a number of people in Washington would love to see him run for the Senate because he is such a fine candidate," Eibensteiner said. But he added, "I can tell you unequivocally he's not even going to consider it. He's going to run for reelection as governor."
Pawlenty's spokesman, Brian McClung, said Friday: "Governor Pawlenty is not interested in running for the U.S. Senate. That pretty much says it all." Asked if he'd change his mind if he got another call from the White House, McClung said: "It's hard to speculate."
Regardless of who emerges as his opponent, Dayton said there will be "very clear differences in policies and priorities." And with the governor's office up for grabs next year, along with legislative and state offices, Dayton said he's telling Democrats "we're all going to win together or we're going to all lose together."
"It's going to be a titantic political battle for the future of Minnesota," he said. Source: Star Tribune, January 22, 2005
|W|P|110637972392676549|W|P|FORMER SENATOR MARK DAYTON'S OFFICE, HOW MAY WE HELP YOU?|W|Pfirstname.lastname@example.org/24/2005 09:11:00 AM|W|P|Don Diego de la Vega|W|P|I'd like to see Rep. Gutknecht take a run. Kennedy needs to stay where he is for one more term. If he focuses on the Senate race, he may lose his seat in the House.
When a candidate goes up against someone with the finacial (read: not political) clout that Dayton has, it's best to hedge your bets.
Great post. Thanks for keeping tabs on the DFL.
Dan1/21/2005 09:53:00 AM|W|P|Minnesota Democrats Exposed|W|P|So Rybak's office mailing out 172,000 newsletters in the begining of an election year is "coincidental?"
Sure it is.
It also must be a coincident that Rybak's office decides in the begining of an election year that maybe he should begin to have "a dialogue with constituents."
R.T. Rybak should change his name to B.S. Rybak.
Rybak mails out 172,000 newsletters
Regardless of who they voted for, every Minneapolis household either has or will soon receive a glossy eight-page newsletter from Mayor R.T. Rybak.
Rybak, who is up for reelection this year, printed 172,000 copies of his first-ever newsletter and had them delivered. The cost was $42,000 to taxpayers for production and postage -- not including staff time spent on the writing, according to the mayor's office.
The blue, black and white newsletter features five photos of the mayor as well as updates on city activities from the City of Lakes Loppet and efforts to restore the Brackett Park rocket to community gardens and leadership changes in the police and fire departments.
The newsletter talks about efforts by the administration that range from "targeting repeat offenders" and "fiscal responsibility" to "airport, air quality and trees."
Deputy Mayor David Fey said that the election-year timing is coincidental and that the office had hoped to put out a newsletter sooner but didn't have the money. Fey said he hopes that in addition to providing valuable information, the newsletter is the beginning of a dialogue with constituents.
Some question the timing of the newsletter, however, and whether it's a taxpayer-funded election-year effort to reach voters. Dean Carlson, a resident of the East Harriet neighborhood, received his letter last week, cringed and immediately checked on whether it was from the city or Rybak's campaign.
"I support the mayor and I'll probably vote for him, but I did feel the piece was kind of 'campaigny' for being from the city," Carlson said.
The piece, he said, presents the mayor's side of topics expected to be issues in the campaign. Fey said, "There's a very bright line between campaign and office activity. We pay attention to that. This is full of good information that people have a right to know. We see this as part of open government."
It is common practice for City Council members to use taxpayer money to send out newsletters to their wards.
The use of photographs, however, is particularly touchy, and Rybak includes five flattering shots. Asked about the photos, Fey said, "Frankly, we were just trying to liven up the layout with some pictures and graphics so it wasn't all text."
A fine line
In recent years, some politicians have run into trouble for coming close to the line between official government work and politicking, especially with the use of photos.
In 1999, a picture of then-Gov. Jesse Ventura appeared on a Commerce Department brochure. While Attorney General Mike Hatch said the photo was OK, Legislative Auditor James Nobles said it violated the law preventing public money from being used to create publications to promote the personal or political identity of a state official.
When Fey was asked whether anyone in the mayor's office referred to the law before issuing the publication, he said, "I did not personally look at it. If you look at the newsletters of council members or former mayors, they've all got pictures. It's pretty typical stuff."
Council Member Scott Benson said he has published a newsletter -- without photographs.
"We're not that high-tech," he said.
The city attorney has not looked into when such publications cross the line into taxpayer-funded campaigning because no one has asked, but Deputy City Attorney Peter Ginder said the key question is whether the reader would be led to believe that the publication was put forward by an individual.
Nobles, who had not seen Rybak's newsletter, said the state may need to draw a clearer line about what is appropriate for official publications, especially given the proliferation of politicians using government Web sites to update constituents.
"I think public officials need to be very careful not to use public funds to promote their personal agendas," Nobles said. "It's against the Minnesota tradition and ultimately it will hurt them politically. The public likes to see campaigns promoted with private money." Source: Star Tribune, January 21, 2005
|W|P|110633149645564318|W|P|JUST A "COINCIDENT"|W|Pemail@example.com/21/2005 07:22:00 AM|W|P|Minnesota Democrats Exposed|W|P|37 Minnesotans traveled to Washington for the sole purpose of turning their backs on the presidential motorcade during President Bush's inaugural.
What a waste of time.
"On the other side of the barricades were 37 protesters from across Minnesota, about a dozen of whom made the 1,200-mile bus trip for a chance to turn their backs on the presidential motorcade.
'I've seen enough of Bush,' said Philip Goyette, 19, a University of Minnesota student and state organizer of Turn Your Back on Bush, one of several Twin Cities protest groups that chartered an overnight bus from Minneapolis. 'Every time I see him, he makes me angry.'" Source: Star Tribune, January 21, 2005
|W|P|110632142627389054|W|P|SOUNDS LIKE 37 MINNESOTANS HAVE TOO MUCH FREE TIME|W|Pfirstname.lastname@example.org/21/2005 06:27:00 AM|W|P|Minnesota Democrats Exposed|W|P|More evidence of DFL frustration with the 2004 elections.
Winona County DFLers digging in for 2006 elections
The atmosphere was homey and the politics local Thursday night on Fifth Street in Winona, about 800 miles away from the black ties and boots of inauguration pageantry that closed the 2004 presidential election season.
Even though the scheduled guest — a veterans' advocate from Rochester — had cancelled earlier in the day, a dozen people sat in slip-covered chairs and an old love seat in the county DFL's storefront office talking about the trials of wounded veterans and how to help families of those now serving overseas.
On a freshly painted wall above the windows Margaret Mead's words read, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
Ten weeks after suffering a narrow defeat in the most contentious presidential election in recent history — or at least in the past four years — the Winona County DFL has quietly dug in with a grass-roots determination to serve the local community — and hopefully put some Democrats in office in 2006.
"I was damned disappointed," said DFL volunteer office manager Rollie Salling. "All the energy I saw, all the enthusiasm I saw in the 2004 election that I didn't see in the 2000 election."
That disappointment turned to resolve at the DFL's post-election party at Holzinger Lodge on Nov. 13, 2004, when party members decided to reopen their election headquarters as a permanent office.
"Let's not let this die," said Olga Draskoci-Johnson, who got involved in the campaign after becoming a U.S. citizen last August. "Let's not close shop and wait two years."
There at the party people started writing checks to the party to help fund the permanent office at 685 W. 5th St.
Salling recalled one woman who said, "This morning I thought I should be dressing for a wake — now it feels like a party."
"I'm really energized," Salling said. "What always happened before, after the election everybody went into their hole for two years. Then they come out in August and work hard for two months then crawl back in.
"I heard the Republican machine hit the ground running the day after the 2000 election. That's what we have to do now."
Now, in addition to opening its first permanent office, the party has nearly doubled its executive committee — from 17 to 26 — and has formed a slew of new sub-committees to work on research, fundraising, outreach and service.
Thursday night's event for veterans was the first in a planned series of "Third Thursdays" — practical events that will give people a chance to learn more about topics or services. In February they plan to bring in an expert on Social Security.
"It's not a partisan event," said John Heddle, a long-time DFL activist. "Just an exchange of ideas."
The party is also planning group nights — for unions, teachers, students or seniors to gather and discuss issues they see as important — and possibly a book club.
As a flow chart on one of the office bulletin boards attests, the ultimate goal of the organization is to "Elect Democrats in 2006." But in the mean time the Winona DFL is trying to fill some community needs — primarily a hunger for information about issues and about services.
Many of the people that volunteers called during the fall campaign expressed a desire for more information, said Jean Patzner Mueller, a DFL volunteer who works as an ombudsman for the state Department of Human Services, advocating for people who receive services.
"Because of that work I've seen how valuable information is," Mueller said. "I see the importance of knowing how the system works."
The information they provide will certainly include the Democratic platform, Mueller said, but primarily she sees her role as serving; how the people vote is their business.
"I don't think the Democrats can expect voters to support them if they don't see real value to their vote," Heddle said. "I think it's incumbent on us to provide that value, and not just for three months every two years."
Volunteer Anne Morse put it more bluntly: "It's a question of relevance." Source: Winona Daily News, January 21, 2005
|W|P|110631816129708498|W|P|WINONA COUNTY DFL "DAMN DISAPPOINTED" WITH 2004 ELECTIONS|W|Pemail@example.com