Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has snagged a speaking role at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. The DNC will announce Rybak's speaking role later today, but the speaking gig was confirmed by a Rybak aide.
Rybak is a vice chair of the DNC and has been a vocal backer of President Obama. The date, time and topic for Rybak's speech are still being worked out.
Democrats will gather in Charlotte from Sept. 4 through Sept. 6. Their main order of business will be to nominate President Obama for reelection.
Posted at 6:35 AM on August 24, 2012
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
Mitt Romney raised at least $825k at two fundraisers in Minnesota. He held no public events and took no questions from the press.
AP says Romney also said "Big business is doing just fine" and is being helped by tax havens during the fundraiser.
Romney's aides also prevented a local reporter in Colorado from asking about Todd Akin and abortion during an interview.
Romney may be nominated on Monday night as a result of Hurricane Isaac and Ron Paul.
A document dump also shows details on Romney's family trusts.
AP says Romney is using a secretive data mining project to find new wealthy donors.
The Washington Post says President Obama is depending on a strong ground game against Mitt Romney.
The Obama campaign expects Romney to get a bump from the RNC.
Romney is also defending his Massachusetts health care law as being superior than President Obama's.
Romney also says he'd replace Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve Chair.
Univision will hold separate candidate forums with Obama and Romney.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak will have a speaking slot at the DNC. Rybak's office confirms the role but date, time and topic are still TBD.
Under the Dome
Lawmakers will return to the State Capitol today to pass flood relief legislation for northeastern Minnesota. MPR has a look at some of the damage that was caused by the flooding.
Gov. Dayton is asking for an additional $42.5 million to build the health insurance exchange.
Dayton will meet in Duluth with with Georgia-Pacific employees, leaders. The company announced it was closing the Duluth plant.
The Senate's legal bills in the Michael Brodkorb scandal have hit six figures.
Minnesota's businesses are watching and waiting to see whether the defense cuts go through.
Race for Senate
Republican Kurt Bills, who was elected as a delegate because he supported Ron Paul, is now encouraging Republicans to rally around Romney.
There are serious discussions underway among Republican legislators to take up a motion to expel Rep. Kerry Gauthier, DFL-Duluth during today's special session.
GOP House Majority Leader Matt Dean said removing Gauthier is "a possibility" when asked about discussions to expel the first-term member. Dean said any member can make a motion when the Legislature convenes for the Special Session at 2 p.m.
The House would need 90 votes to take up the resolution, meaning a block of DFLers would have to agree that Gauthier's conduct was severe enough that he needs to be removed from office. It would also take 90 votes to expel Gauthier from office. The Minnesota Constitution gives the Legislature the power to govern the behavior of its members and punish them for "disorderly behavior."
Gauthier said earlier this week that he would not run for re-election after it became public that he engaged in sexual activity with a 17-year-old boy at a public rest stop near Duluth. GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers and other Republicans have called on Gauthier to resign immediately. Democrats have asked him to not run for re-election but have stopped short of calling for his resignation.
Gauthier said he will not attend today's Special Session because he doesn't want to be a distraction.(10 Comments)
A fund set up by the Republican Party of Minnesota meant to assist Tom Emmer during the 2010 gubernatorial recount has officially reported its finances to the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.
Last month, the campaign finance board found that the GOP violated campaign finance law by creating the Count Them All Properly fund, which the board determined was directed by former party Chairman Tony Sutton.
As a result, the Republican Party of Minnesota was fined $26,900 and Count Them All Properly was fined $3,100. Sutton was fined $3,000.
Because the recount effort was conducted by the party, funding for it should have been disclosed, the board determined.
There are few surprises in the documents.
More or less all of the fund's money came in the form of a $30,000 check from Robert Cummins, an elusive but generous donor who supports conservative causes and candidates.
According to depositions taken by the board, the Cummins donation was solicited by Sutton.
Count Them All Properly spent a little more than $28,000 on legal fees and other expenses, including more than $1,000 to Dan Puhl and his firm Cardinals FEC Compliance, a firm that helps candidates and parties account for their campaign donations and expenses.
After it became clear that Emmer's race against now Gov. Mark Dayton would end in a recount, Puhl created Count Them All Properly by his own volition, according to depositions taken by the board. He then promoted the fund to the Republican party as a discreet way of shielding donors who wanted to assist with recount costs.
"I thought this is a good opportunity for me business-wise because I can have a new client for my bookkeeping, billing," Puhl said in his deposition. "And so I went ahead and started this corporation, because basically nobody else had and it was a business opportunity for me."
Three Minnesota House Republicans say that tentative agreements reached between Gov. Mark Dayton and two state employees unions are flawed.
Among their gripes is that union employees are on track to continue getting a good deal on health insurance.
"Some 50,000 state employees do not pay a dime for the premium on their generous state health insurance policy," wrote Reps. Mike Benson, Keith Downey and Steve Drazkowski in their August 17, 2012 opinion piece in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "State employees who opt for dependent coverage pay roughly $130 a month in total to fully cover their families."
That statement is correct, but deserves some context.
Minnesota's branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE), which collectively represent more than 27,000 of Minnesota's state employees, have reached tentative agreements with the Dayton administration to renew their contract.
At this point, the contract would include a 2 percent across-the-board pay raise.
The contracts would also preserve the current system set up for state employee health insurance: Individuals on the state employee health plan have their entire premium covered by the state, and families pay roughly $130 monthly in premium costs, according to Minnesota Management and Budget.
About 48,000 state employees are eligible for the health care plan.
So, the GOP trio's statement is basically correct.
However, it's important to note that state employees do pay for their co-pays on prescription drugs and doctor's visits, and their deductibles. In fact, the contracts agree to an increase in those out-of-pocket costs.
Benson, Downey and Drazkowski get their facts right in the opinion piece. But it's important to put those facts in context.
This claim leans toward accurate.
The Star Tribune, Unions get a great deal from Gov. Dayton, by Reps. Mike Benson, Keith Downey and Steve Drazkowski, Aug. 17, 2012
Minnesota Public Radio, Parry and his campaign become the focus of committee hearing, by Tom Scheck, Aug. 9, 2012
AFSCME Council 5, Public Employee Pay and Benefits, accessed Aug. 24, 2012
Data, Minnesota Management and Budget, Aug. 20, 2012
Interview, Jennifer Munt, spokeswoman, AFSCME Council 5, Aug. 24, 2012(8 Comments)
House GOP leaders decided against taking up a motion to expel Rep. Kerry Gauthier, DFL-Duluth, during today's special legislative session, even though they openly discussed the possibility for several days.
GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers said the one-day special session didn't give them enough time to take action. He said Republicans decided against expelling Gauthier because it would be more prudent to hold an Ethics Committee hearing first.
"There is a process to follow," Zelelrs said. "Just because the acts that were committed were egregious doesn't mean we would not have due process."
Zellers renewed his call for Gauthier to resign.
Gauthier skipped the special session and announced earlier this week that he would not run for re-election. Last week Duluth police revealed Gauthier engaged in sexual activity with a 17-year-old boy at a public rest stop near Duluth last month. He was not arrested or charged with a crime.
Democrats applauded Gauthier's decision to not run for re-election but have stopped short of calling on him to resign. Zellers said his absence from the Capitol during the special session is evidence Gauthier should step down right away.
"The fact that he was not down here today serving his constituents, doing the job he was elected to do, proves that he is not fit to be in office," Zellers said.
It's unlikely that lawmakers can take any action to force Gauthier out of the Legislature. An ethics complaint can be filed only during the legislative session, and it's unlikely lawmakers will meet in session again between now and Jan. 8, 2013, when the next regular session is scheduled to begin.
Gauthier has not responded to messages about whether he would resign. He said he was skipping the special session because he didn't want to be a distraction.(1 Comments)