Posted at 7:23 AM on January 28, 2010
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
I'm not feeling so hot today so this will be an abbreviated Digest.
President Obama delivered his first State of the Union to Congress. He focused a large portion of the speech on helping middle class families. If you missed the speech, MPR News will rebroadcast it at
2010 Race for Governor
Twenty candidates for governor participated in a Minnesota News Council debate last night. MPR's Midday will rebroadcast the full debate today as well.
Under the Dome
General Assistance Medical Care, which was slated to be eliminated on March 1, gets a month extension.
Pawlenty for Prez Watch
Mark your calendars, Gov. Pawlenty has agreed to appear on MPR's Midday on Feb. 3rd at 11AM.
Pawlenty is headed to Raleigh, North Carolina on 2/8.
State Sen. Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, has officially launched the 6th district congressional campaign that she started last summer.
She held a kickoff event today at the State Capitol. Clark is out to unseat Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann in the fall, but first she'll have to win a DFL primary. The other DFL candidate, Maureen Reed, claims she has a better chance to attract 6th district independent voters. But Clark disagreed.
"I'm the one that's in office," Clark said. " And I've proven that you can win in a tough district where you have to bring Democrats, Republicans and independents together. And that's what we've done time over time."
Clark didn't want to talk about Reed. She said her attention is on Bachmann, who Clark claims isn't fighting for the 6th district.
"While I eliminated my own office mailing budget, she spent more than $100,000 on taxpayer funded mailings, more than any other representative in Minnesota, to send self-promoting mail to people who don't even live in the district, who don't even live in the state," Calrk said.
A state Republican party official said Clark has been on the wrong side of every tax and spending issue in the Legislature. And he claimed Bachmann is the clear favorite to win a third term.
We'll have video of the Clark event once it's converted.
Maureen Reed's campaign manager, Jason Isaacson, responded to the Clark announcement with this statement:
The Maureen Reed campaign is energized and excited to see the 6th Congressional race come into full swing. In this race it is clear there is one candidate who can defeat Michele Bachmann. There is one candidate who has a path to victory. While both campaigns have shown an equal aptitude for fundraising, there is one candidate that is running her campaign the old fashion way without big-name endorsements; relying on hard work and grassroots politics. Maureen Reed is engaging the voters in a dialogue of hope and cooperation to find solutions to the problems that face the Sixth district. We welcome Clark and her six day tour across the district. For over 8 months now, Maureen has traveled the district from Stillwater to St Cloud, talking to voters about the issues that matter to them. Everywhere we've gone, we've gotten a tremendous response to our message and Maureen's background outside of politics.
We are also excited to announce that the first debate between the two DFL candidates will be held at Senate District 19's convention on February 20th. Maureen is a candidate with real world experience in health care, education, business and non-profits, and we're confident voters will see the difference once they have a chance to hear from her directly.
We also heard from Bachmann spokesman Dave Dziok, who refuted Clark's allegation about the mailing costs:
It looks like this is going to be one long year of smears, lies, half-truths, and gutter politics from the Democrats. Constituent outreach has always been a priority for Congresswoman Bachmann throughout her two terms in Congress, and will continue to be a priority going forward.
DFL Sen. Al Franken said today that he wants the House to pass the Senate version of the health care overhaul bill. He said the Senate can make fixes to the plan through a process known as reconciliation. Here's part of the release from Franken's office:
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) opened the Families USA Health Action 2010 conference this morning with a speech that called on Congress to not give up on passing national health care reform. Sen. Franken urged Congress to "pass and pledge" in order to finish the health care debate and provide meaningful reform to Americans. He recommended that the House pass the Senate version of the health care bill once the Senate pledges to fix certain portions using a procedural process known as reconciliation. Both tactics mean that national health care reform could be passed with a majority vote, overcoming a Republican filibuster of the legislation.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann announced today that she will not be attending next month's national Tea Party Convention in Nashville, TN. There have been some concerns (written about in the New York Times) that the group organizing the event is for profit and is charging too much for an average person to attend. Congresswoman Bachmann's spokesman Dave Dziok issued this statement describing why she isn't attending:
Due to conflicting advice on whether Representative Bachmann's participation in the upcoming Tea Party Nation Convention would be in line with the Committee on Standards, Congresswoman Bachmann has decided not to participate in the event. There is uncertainty about how any proceeds from the event may be used, and we must err on the side of caution. Some will want to portray her withdrawal as a repudiation of the Tea Party Movement, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Congresswoman Bachmann remains encouraged by all Americans, regardless of political party, who are concerned about this nation's future and dwindling prosperity, and continues to be inspired their passion.
GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen reports raising $1.2 million in 2009. He also reports having $943,923 cash on hand. Here's the release from Paulsen's camp:
EDEN PRAIRIE, MN - Today, Congressman Erik Paulsen (MN-03) announced that he has raised $274,863 for the fourth quarter of 2009. The numbers reveal yet another strong quarter for Paulsen, who is a freshman member of Congress representing the Western Suburbs of the Twin Cities Metro Area.
"I continue to be honored and blessed with the opportunity to serve the people of Minnesota's Third District in Congress," said Paulsen. "Minnesotans are tired of Washington's spending habits and want their representatives to be results-oriented and deliver on their promises."
Since beginning his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Paulsen has been noted for his work on fiscal responsibility, government transparency, job creation, and pursuing bipartisan solutions to solve our nation's largest problems.
To date, Paulsen has raised $1,199,679 and has $943,923 cash on hand.
Twenty of the candidates for governor participated in a debate last night. You can read a story about the debate here.
You can listen to the full debate here:
Part 1 - Listen
Part 2 - Listen
I was a bit under the weather yesterday so I didn't have time to post the video of Republican Tom Emmer discussing why he and 31 other GOP members of the MN House are filing a friend of the court brief in support of Gov. Pawlenty's unallotment. Emmer is a canddate for governor. GOP state Rep. Paul Kohls of Victoria is the other speaker in the video. Here it is:
DFL Sen. Al Franken announced today that he introduced legislation to change campaign finance laws. He's making the announcement one week after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling allowing corporations and unions to spend unlimited sums of money to buy ads supporting or opposing political candidates. Franken has introduced legislation that aims to keep foreign interests out of elections. Here's part of the news release:
Since 1974, federal law has banned foreign companies from giving or spending in American elections. Nothing in our current laws, however, explicitly prohibits foreign companies from creating American subsidiaries or getting control of American companies and using them to flood the airwaves in support of their preferred candidates. Citizens United gives companies unlimited power to do that - and does not distinguish between American companies and companies that are owned or controlled by foreign interests.
"I was pleased to hear the President recognize the need for this bill in his address last night," said Sen. Franken. "I think we can all agree that foreign interests have no place in American elections."
The "American Elections Act of 2010" was developed in coordination with Professor David Schultz of Hamline University School of Business in Minnesota.
"The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United was an attack on democracy and fair elections," said Professor Schultz. "It undid laws seeking to regulate corporations across the country and in Minnesota that go back over 60 years. As a result of it corporate money will flood into Minnesota, threatening the basic integrity of our elections and the power of citizens to control their own government. Senator Franken's bill is an important first step in addressing Citizens United and preventing money from further destroying our elections in Minnesota."
The "American Elections Act of 2010" will keep foreign interests out of our elections by:
· Banning election contributions and spending by corporations that are controlled or highly influenced by foreign nationals (foreign governments, companies, and persons). This includes:
- Corporations that receive most of their financing from foreign nationals.
- Corporations where foreign nationals hold a controlling share of stock (as defined under leading corporate law) or a majority of the Board of Directors.
- Corporations that allow foreign nationals to control or participate in their political activities - including ad spending, donations, and political action committees.
· Requiring all corporations to certify, before giving or spending in elections, that they are in compliance with these requirements.
· Requiring all corporations to disclose in their political advertising how much of their company is controlled by foreign nationals, or if this isn't possible, how much of their financing comes from foreign nationals.
The "American Elections Act of 2010" is supported by Common Cause, People for the American Way, Common Cause Minnesota, and MPIRG.
Posted at 3:56 PM on January 28, 2010
by Mike Mulcahy
Sen. Al Franken was one of 30 Senate "no" votes on a second term for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Fellow Democrat Amy Klobuchar voted in favor of his confirmation.
You can find the roll call here.
And here is a statement from Franken:
"Working Minnesotans deserve to have the same or better protections from the Federal Reserve than Wall Street and the big banks. But that isn't currently the case in our financial system and it hasn't been the case in our response to the financial meltdown of 2008. I opposed the bailout because I didn't believe it afforded enough taxpayer protections, and that's why I oppose this nomination today.
"A strong Consumer Financial Protection Agency and other consumer protections are essential to securing our economy for Main Street and the middle class. I needed to know that a robust CFPA would be a part of financial regulatory reform in order to support Chairman Bernanke's confirmation to a second term. As governor of the Federal Reserve and then Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Bernanke did almost nothing to protect consumers and when he did, it was too late. I needed the assurance that would improve. And I didn't get that.
"While I voted for cloture because I believed this nomination deserved an up or down vote, I couldn't in good conscience support it."
A poll released today by Newsmax-Zogby shows Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney leading in a hypothetical 2012 primary, but there's an interesting result if you read farther down.
Sen.-elect Scott Brown of Massachusetts is outpolling Gov. Tim Pawlenty in this survey of GOP voters. Brown gets 5.2 percent while Pawlenty is at 4.9.
Palin was at 22 percent followed by Romney at 19 and Newt Gingrich at 12 percent.
There aren't any details about the polling methods in the story, and clearly a lot of what's showing up here is name recognition. But at the very least it looks like Pawlenty is still a relative unknown among Republican voters nationally.
And of course the governor hasn't said for sure whether he intends to run in 2012.
A spokeswoman for the DFL Party says an internal investigation found that officials representing pension funds for retired Minneapolis police officers and fire fighters did not gain access to their voter list.
The issue popped up when several DFL activists started receiving campaign literature that was highly critical of Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. Rybak is a candidate for governor and the campaign lit quoted several widows of police officers and fire fighters asking DFL activists to oppose Rybak's nomination for governor.
The issue revolves around two pension funds that were closed to new members but continued to increase benefits to those already in the fund. Rybak challenged the funds in court and recouped $10 million for the city.
Rybak criticized the lit piece and his campaign manager wanted to know how the pension fund was able to contact DFL activists across the state.
The Star Tribune quoted Larry Ward, director of the Minneapolis Police Relief Association Political Fund, as saying "I think we got it through the voter file but right now you have me at a disadvantage because I really don't know how we got the list,"
That quote prompted DFL Party Chair Brian Melendez to ask Ward where he obtained the list since only the DFL Party and the DFL candidates for governor have access to it.
Kristin Sosanie, a spokesman for the DFL Party, told me tonight that Ward contacted them and told them the list he referred to in the Star Tribune wasn't the official DFL Party list. She said they also talked with people who received the campaign literature and determined that the addresses didn't always match up with the DFL voter list.
The Alliance for a Better Minnesota is running web ads criticizing Governor Pawlenty and Republican Reps. Marty Seifert, Tom Emmer and Kurt Zellers for scaling back the renter's credit in Minnesota. The ad banner, which is on the top of the National Review's blog right now, says "Tim Pawlenty and the GOP stole money from renters."
The weblink sends you to a website that determines how much money renters may lose under the action. It also allows viewers to contact their lawmakers to fix the problem.
The full website, Return My Rebate, says Pawlenty and other Republicans "stole over $50 million from renters in Minnesota when they slashed the renters' credit over the summer. They are forcing over 300,000 working Minnesotans to get by with a greater financial burden in a tougher economic climate than ever before."
Pawlenty scaled back the size of the renter's credit from 19 percent to 15 percent when he unilaterally cut the budget in July. He took the action after he failed to reach a budget deal with Democrats in control of the Legislature.
Denise Cardinal, with the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, said they decided to start the campaign after several of her younger staffers complained about the reduction in the credit.
"We're trying to make the point that this was money that was taken," Cardinal said. "That's real money that going into the communities."
Cardinal said the ads started running earlier this week. She said her group is also targeting Seifert, Emmer and Zellers because they support the governor's action. Seifert and Emmer are both running for governor.
I contacted Pawlenty's spokesman for a comment and haven't heard back from him. I'll post his reply when I do.