If you didn't hear the debate on Midmorning today with the candidates for attorney general, it's now available online. It originated from the UBS Forum, the theater-like thing we have upstairs for these sorts of things, an opportunity to hear from the public and allow participants to engage "newsmakers" directly.
The questions were a little uneven... ranging from some guy who was suing the attorney general to Senate candidate Michael Cavlan who wondered why Papa John Kolstad was not included. Don't get me started and don't get me fired. My opinion on debates has been documented here before.
There was also a question asked as "what do the candidates think about full civil rights for gays?", which allowed each candidate to sputter on about how they're not in favor of discrimination. Great. The obvious question, I suppose, should have been on same-sex marriage; at least I'm guessing that's what the real question was. And what's the answer to that? "No, I won't represent the state of Minnesota in any court should it pass a ban on same-sex marriage."?
One of the problems with the debates I've heard so far is nobody -- and, yes, I'm using the term loosely -- seems to know what the heck the attorney general does . The answers from the candidates seem to be the same for every question. Fairly philosophical, stump-like dissertations. What else can you do? Talk about the fine points of friend-of-the-court briefs?
I don't envy any of the three candidates running.
One interesting moment today (about a half hour in) was a question about stem cells research. Jeff Johnson said he didn't think it was an issue in the attorney general race (like I said, what is?) but said he supports the Bush administration on the subject. Then he said Swanson has raised the issue because the people in the attorney general's office "like" wedge issues.
Then Swanson said Johnson co-authored a bill to strip the U of public funding if they got private money for stem cell research.
Johnson said, "that's not true."
Swanson cited HF2026 in the 2004 session (I can't figure out how to find a bill in a previous session and Votetracker didn't exist in '04), and we were off and running.
But then we never heard Swanson's opinion on stem cell research and John James was never given the opportunity to answer.
It was the first hint of anger on either side I've heard in the debates so far.
Jeff Johnson did indeed co-author that bill in 2004:
Johnson, busted in a lie! He does indeed appear as a co-author of that bill he denied authoring.
Not just a lie, false witness. Jeff Johnson is the preferred candidate of Minnesota's Christian fundamentalist political movement, having explained his views in a softball interview on right-wing Christian radio station KKMS.
Here's how you get a copy of a bill from a previous session:
You go to:
Then scroll down the page to where it says:
Previous years' bill and more.
Select the years you want to search in the field at right.
So how about a new headline on this thread: "Attorney General candidate Jeff Johnson lies about stem-cell research ban bill he authored." There's really nothing to decode here is there, Bob?
Johnson was an original author on this bill, not a Jeffrey-come-lately. This is the entire text of the bill, short and to the point. Johnson flat out denied he authored it. It's not likely that Johnson could forget this bill. He lied:
A bill for an act
1.2 relating to health; placing funding restrictions on
1.3 individuals and entities conducting research on human
1.4 embryos and certain stem cell lines; proposing coding
1.5 for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 145.
1.6 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:
1.7 Section 1. [145.426] [FUNDING RESTRICTIONS RELATED TO
1.9 An individual or entity conducting research using human
1.10 embryos or human embryonic stem cells is not eligible for state
1.11 funding of any kind and for any purpose. This restriction on
1.12 funding does not apply if an individual or entity conducts
1.13 research using human embryonic stem cell lines eligible for
1.14 federal research funding and listed on the Human Embryonic Stem
1.15 Cell Registry established by the National Institutes of Health,
1.16 and does not conduct research using human embryos or other human
1.17 embryonic stem cell lines.
Unless he wants to admit that this would ban state funding for ANY entity that performs this research, not just the U of M. In which case the guy is even more extreme than Swanson made him out to be.