Risky business: Is McFadden’s CEO experience an asset or liability in the Minnesota Senate race?

 
A new ad from the Franken campaign contends that opponent Mike McFadden’s company is headquartered offshore in Bermuda to dodge taxes.

McFadden and Mills have highlighted their business careers as the most relevant lines on their resumes, arguing they have more real-world knowledge and hands-on experience, especially when it comes to the economy or health care, than other politicians, especially their opponents. But, if Franken’s ad and those likely to follow it are any guide, Democrats are ready to make business experience a political liability, as well.

Why business experience matters

REUTERS/Craig Lassig
Mike McFadden

McFadden is co-CEO of Lazard Middle Market, an investment banking firm that often serves as an adviser and representative for businesses looking to be sold to other owners. McFadden and his supporters often allude to his work as a “problem solver,” and he said that experience gives him unique insight into how the economy impacts the private sector.

“I’ve spent my whole career advising small and mid-sized sized businesses, and it’s small and mid-sized businesses that have been the growth-drivers of our economy, the job-creators,” said McFadden, who is taking a leave of absence from the company during his campaign. “They’re also the ones that are getting absolutely smothered by over-regulation.”

McFadden is not the lone businessman running for U.S. Senate this cycle — he counts North Carolina’s Thom Tillis and Georgia’s David Perdue as potential future colleagues — and he said he expects a “wave election year” this November “where a number of businesspeople are going to get elected.”

MinnPost photo by Devin Henry
Stewart Mills

In the 8th District, Mills Fleet Farm executive Stewart Mills has already featured his role in his family’s retail company in a few of his campaign ads. Mills references his position as the company’s health plan administrator when he talks about the Affordable Care Act, a law he opposes and would support repealing if he defeats Rep. Rick Nolan this fall.

“That’s what got me off the bench on Obamacare,” he said in an August interview. “A long time before I even thought about running for Congress, I was pretty active in opposing that.”

There’s plenty of potential political upside here. In June, more than 80 percent of those polled by Gallup said they thought the country would be better governed by lawmakers with a business background. Charlie Weaver, a Republican who heads the Minnesota Business Partnership, said these candidates often look to apply their experience in the private sector to the pressing issues of the day.

Democrats hit back

But there’s a flip side to that, especially in McFadden’s case.

Franken’s Bermuda ad was the first major salvo in what could develop into a Democratic campaign to define McFadden by his investment banking past, though future iterations could dive more deeply into his firm’s business record, with any Lazard client layoffs or job-outsourcing playing a starring role.

The Alliance for a Better Minnesota, a liberal group that could play in the Senate race this fall, was the first to tap into this line of attack. They released a web video the week after McFadden entered the race accusing Lazard of making millions of dollars while advising a Duluth paper mill through bankruptcy proceedings that involved laying off 5 percent of its workforce. Carrie Lucking, ABM’s executive director until August, called McFadden a “ruthless investment banker who made a whole bunch of money off of deals where people lost their jobs.”

But McFadden said situations like that are not representative of Lazard’s services. The campaign provided the contract language Lazard uses with clients stipulating that the firm has “no responsibility” for making operational decisions — in other words, they aren’t responsible for any layoffs the companies may make.

Democrats have been mining McFadden’s business background for examples like the paper mill, something for which McFadden’s campaign has been bracing. Campaign officials have briefed reporters on the differences between McFadden and Mitt Romney, who was pilloried for his private equity experience during his 2012 presidential run, and to offer a prebuttal to any Lazard attacks.

“I don’t advise clients to cut jobs. Period,” McFadden said. “We advise businesses on their balance sheet and on their capital structure. In fact it’s very explicit in our engagement agreements that we have no operational control over our clients, nor will we make operational decisions. That’s not the scope of services that we provide.”

Even so, it’s not hard to imagine these deals packaged as campaign ads and deployed against McFadden just as Democrats used Romney’s private equity experience against him in 2012. That tactic didn’t go dormant after President Obama won re-election — Democrats have used it against candidates around the country this year — nor was it a novel approach in the first place.

“It’s something people have been doing since rich people started to run for office,” University of Minnesota political science professor Dan Myers said, “and that’s a very long time.”

Myers, who studies how campaigns use story-telling in their advertising, said Democrats’ ads in 2012 were meant to not only link Romney to unpopular business dealings but to highlight policy differences between him and Obama. The ads put a human face on a political issue, he said, and were able to draw people in accordingly.

Myers said campaigns facing off against businesspeople like using stories about specific business deals as a way to make a broader political point.

Democrats’ broader message

Indeed, Lucking said business deals from McFadden’s past could be used to set up a larger argument against him, that he’d be a senator who would support policies meant to help the government’s bottom line at the expense of the people, or policies meant to benefit big business over others.

“We have businesses all across Minnesota, main streets that are falling down, and it’s largely because of this attitude that the workers and their communities don’t matter, the only thing that matters is that I get rich and that you get rich,” she said. “The last thing we want are more policies in the United States Senate or in Congress that benefit or change the rules so that sort of business is acceptable or that lack of accountability is acceptable.”

Democrats say McFadden has supplied them with the ingredients to make their argument. In August, for example, he said he wouldn’t support a provision requiring American-made steel — made, implicitly, with Minnesota iron ore — for the Keystone pipeline in place of cheaper steel from elsewhere. The DFL has used that against him on the Iron Range, and Franken spokeswoman Alexandra Fetissoff suggested the steel comment was revealing of McFadden’s overall approach to politics.

“As much as he tries to hide it, Mike McFadden’s business record has clearly influenced his political philosophy which explains his support for Chinese steel over Minnesota jobs and his other stances that put profits over people,” she said.

McFadden said he’s “very proud” of his business experience, and that it would be “reckless” for Democrats to use it against him the way they did with Romney in 2012.

“I think the demonization of business that took place in 2012 and continues today, not only is wrong but I believe it’s reckless,” McFadden said. “We’ve got to get this economy growing. While Democrats have spent time demonizing business they should have spent time rolling up their sleeves and figuring out how to fix our economy.” 

Comments (68)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/11/2014 - 11:24 am.

    Experience?

    McFadden has no relevant experience, but then again neither did Franken. The difference is that Franken is informed and knowledgeable, and a capable legislator. McFadden has demonstrated a marked ignorance regarding everything from healthcare to basic economics and offers nothing more than the typical magical thinking that’s become the standard of republican candidates over the last two decades.

    As far as bankers go, we’ve seen what bankers did to the MN Orchestra, and the economy, and I don’t think a lot of us are impressed with their “problem” solving skills. Bankers as a general rule aren’t accustomed to negotiating or compromise. It’s an industry where until very recently bankers mostly dictate terms unilaterally because no one really had the power to push back in any meaningful way. The industry is rife with abuse, incompetence, and inefficiency, and it’s executives are for the most part just paid for being there.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/11/2014 - 12:21 pm.

      Franken has an office full of informed and knowledgeable staff members. McFadden will have the same thing when he’s elected. As to legislative capabilities, other than casting the deciding vote for Obamacare, I’m having a little trouble putting my finger on Franken’s achievements. Can you give us some details?

      • Submitted by jason myron on 09/11/2014 - 12:38 pm.

        He didn’t cast a deciding vote on the ACA

        any more than anyone else that voted for it. Why do you people persist in perpetuating this ridiculous notion? It’s nonsensical.

        • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/11/2014 - 01:59 pm.

          Franken is PROUD of Obamacare. He LOVES Obamacare. Al Franken is Mr. Obamacare!

          Why do you think he’d be shy about acknowledging the blatantly obvious (to everyone but yourself, evidently) fact that there would be no Obamacare if he hadn’t won the recount?

          • Submitted by jason myron on 09/11/2014 - 03:25 pm.

            Gee,

            what’s also blatantly obvious is that you can apply that standard to every other senator that won an election and voted for it. Once again…nonsensical.

      • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/12/2014 - 05:15 am.

        A big difference is Franken CARED! & still does

        You are correct that McFadden will have a staff.
        Should that surprise us?

        His election staff is probably coaching him in cram sessions right now from canned Powerpoint Presentations they were assigned to generate.

        Some of this may be true of Senator Franken as well (in his first run). However, he has the advantage of actually caring about government & issues, beyond just those which benefit a business (McF) & he worked to learn the job BEFORE he got there.

        McFadden’s faux pas & many 180 degree reversals says that he’s a front man, HOLLOW, imo.

        Besides – there is no sense installing a new rank amateur in there when we have just invested in Senator Franken’s first term! He has tenure & probably a very good grasp of the job.

        He works for all of us, not his own interest.
        We know that. We don’t need to guess what he cares about.

        ** Edited primarily to correct auto-completed type that said the opposite of the intended word.

  2. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 09/11/2014 - 11:48 am.

    “no responsibility” for…operational decisions

    Right. McFadden and Lazard didn’t actually lay the people off. They just charged millions while advising their client to do so. So McFadden washes his hands of the consequences of his business advice, saying, “I didn’t do it.”.

    It would be different if McFadden had the cojones to tell the plain truth, which is that they DO advise their client companies to throw U.S. employees overboard in circumstances where they see economic advantages for the ownership. This is their value system, simple and consistent. Why be ashamed of it ??

    If business experience does NOT, alone and in and of itself, qualify a candidate for high office, then these Republican candidates are going to find themselves in trouble.

    McFadden & Mills appears to have NOTHING ELSE to offer.

    • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/11/2014 - 12:43 pm.

      CCA: Convenient Conservative Amnesia

      I think that’s a condition we see too often.
      This is what its going to take for people to select McF over Senator Franken.

      We can’t return tp operating with the same ADD as during Bush!

      1) It ain’t broke – don’t fix it.
      2) Its WORKING & we are better off than we were under Normy or would be with McF.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 09/11/2014 - 01:19 pm.

      Advice

      I see you also caught that linguistic slight of hand. McFadden doesn’t make operational decisions for his clients, but he certainly advised them on which course of action to take. Why else are the clients paying his firm?

      They’re saying you don’t have to follow our advice, but here are the economic pros and cons of doing so. I’m sure they also leave out the social costs of their advice too, concentrating instead on just the economic aspects.

      It’s always interesting to take a look at two aspects of a candidate’s comments: how they craft a statement and what they don’t say. It’s interesting to watch the linguistic gymnastics at play.

    • Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 09/11/2014 - 06:04 pm.

      Advice

      Either McFadden advised the companies to act as they did – or the companies didn’t value the advice McFadden was giving and acted contrary to it. Did these companies pay millions for advice that they refused to follow? Hmmmmm.

    • Submitted by John Peschken on 09/16/2014 - 01:59 pm.

      Pressure

      In my personal experience, the bankers squeeze the company by the use of “Management Fees” and demands for ever increasing profitability until the management has no choice but to outsource and otherwise slash and burn to keep the bankers happy. If they don’t do as “advised”, the bankers help them find a new president or CEO to replace the one who they just pushed out. It’s no surprise the new guy is friendly with the bankers, often coming from another company they “advise”. They may not exactly direct what is to be done, but they still force it to happen.

  3. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/11/2014 - 12:17 pm.

    A “problem solver”

    Albeit one with no operational control (“It’s not my fault they followed my advice and fired all of those people!”).

    How many decisive, problem-solving guys like this have run for Congress with the promise to “get things done,” because our candidate is someone who knows how to get things done? How many of them fail to explain that one take-charge kind of guy coming into Congress is going to accomplish bupkes? There are 535 members of Congress, and the idea that one newcomer from a mid-size state is going to turn things around and have things go his way is a joke.

    Business people face different situations than politicians. A business person is judged on how well he or she makes a profit. A politician has to serve the needs of the entire constituency, all of whom have their own interests and their own voices. Anyone who thinks all we need is good, solid, business-type thinking in Washington does not understand either how government works, or how it is supposed to work.

  4. Submitted by Beth-Ann Bloom on 09/11/2014 - 12:58 pm.

    It’s not a business

    If elected, Mr McFadden couldn’t sell off Mississippi or lay off non-productive older citizens or disabled children to save money and improve achievement scores. The business model is not directly applicable to the complexities of government. On the other hand he CAN park a boat so that might come in handy when reviewing the Navy budget or legislating priorities for the Corps of Engineers or improving maritime policy.

  5. Submitted by Alex Seymour on 09/11/2014 - 01:09 pm.

    It is a smoke screen.

    The sad thing about this “Bermuda” thing is that it misses out what is causing this – the tax code. If you are global, the tax code encourages this kind of thing. The US is the only major country that uses domical rather than residence to calculate taxes. In short, this means foreign subsidiaries in the US pay US corporate taxes on their profits and ship the profit home, while American subsidiaries pay local taxes and US taxes.

    This put US companies at a disadvantage, and in some rare cases having a tax rate of over 100%. But that is o.k. because lawmakers have fixed the issues with various kludges. For example, if you reinvest your profits in the foreign subsidiary you can delay paying taxes. To be explicit – US companies are encourage by the tax code not to reinvest in America.

    We have 3 choices. We can choose to be global leaders and exporting our high value services and products, creating high paying jobs along the way. If we chose that path we must accept tax inversions (See Burger King, Medtronic) and Bermuda subsidizers. Another choice would be to declare that “we got ours”, jealously horde what we have, forgo risks, stay at home, and gently recline into something small. Lastly, we could have a rational discourse about tax policy but really – who has time today?

  6. Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 09/11/2014 - 01:12 pm.

    Here we go again.

    Same old Minnesota liberal rhetoric where unless one has achieved financial success in the private sector is demonized and questioned. The exceptions are professional athletes and entertainers, probably because these people lean to the left until the government goes after their $$$.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/11/2014 - 02:40 pm.

      Demonized and Questioned?

      Same old American conservative rhetoric. How is anyone being “demonized?” And why would a candidate for the US Senate not be “questioned?”

      • Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 09/11/2014 - 10:19 pm.

        Because..

        No one questions where Al Franken’s cash came from.

        • Submitted by jody rooney on 09/12/2014 - 09:15 am.

          That’s because he was a pretty visible

          presence before he got elected.

          Do you think he ever advised someone to lay people off?

          Frankly I do agree that this is a pretty weak attack on McFadden. I think attacking his sexism would be stronger.

          • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 09/12/2014 - 11:36 am.

            Jody, can you elaborate on this?

            I’m genuinely curious- I’ve not done any research into this aspect of McFadden.

  7. Submitted by Gerald Abrahamson on 09/11/2014 - 01:14 pm.

    Mills shows he lacks the ability to run a big business.

    ‘Mills references his position as the company’s health plan administrator when he talks about the Affordable Care Act, a law he opposes and would support repealing if he defeats Rep. Rick Nolan this fall.

    “That’s what got me off the bench on Obamacare,” he said in an August interview. “A long time before I even thought about running for Congress, I was pretty active in opposing that.”’

    The “per unit” cost of goods and services generally goes down as volume goes up (Mills *should* know this–right?). So the cost of healthcare, per person, should “go down” as larger volumes of the same healthcare are purchased and provided. Having 50+ providers means 50+ differing costs. Having ONE provider “doing it all” obtains the lowest cost. Mills misses that point completely–but that topic is Business AND Economics 101. Mills does NOT admit it. Why would anyone be opposed to reducing *consumer* spending on healthcare by $1+T/year? That money could then be spent elsewhere–such as on goods and services from Fleet Farm. So Mills probably knows those savings would NOT be spent at his family’s business–but how would he know that, both historically AND today? Ask him.

  8. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/11/2014 - 01:27 pm.

    Anyways…

    His experience will end up being a liability. Only true believers who are still worshiping the wealthy and the magic of the private sector will be impressed, and there aren’t enough of them left in MN to deliver elections.

  9. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 09/11/2014 - 01:47 pm.

    ACA

    If Mills is so concerned about health care for his employees, then why is he working so hard to repeal Obamacare? It’s a boon to Mills Fleet Farm’s many employees who work part time and don’t get health benefits as part of their compensation package.

    The problem with Mill’s approach to this issue is he’s looking for a market based solution to the health care issue. Unfortunately, there isn’t one. The only thing that makes any logical sense at all is a socialist solution: government run single provider universal health care. While we can try other solutions, such as Obamacare, they’re really just nibbling around the edges and don’t get to the heart of the matter. Market solutions don’t address the fact that businesses have built in profit margins, high overhead, and a disincentive to provide good service a it eats into profits.

    The socialist model of universal health care has been used to good effect in Europe for sixty years. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel–just do what they did.

    • Submitted by jody rooney on 09/12/2014 - 09:19 am.

      Actually they did a number of different things in Europe

      Read T.R Reid’s book Healing of America to get an overview of the differences in systems around the world.

  10. Submitted by Rosalind Kohls on 09/11/2014 - 02:23 pm.

    Same question for Franken

    Is Franken’s comedy/show biz experience an asset or liability in the Minnesota Senate race? Discuss.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/11/2014 - 02:55 pm.

      A definite liability

      We can’t have show business people in politics! That would be a true tragedy.

      What would happen if, say, an actor in B-movies decided to run for office? He could get elected to be Governor of our most populous state! That’s not all–he might be emboldened by that victory to run for the presidency! An actor as President–now THAT would be a train wreck, don’t you think? No, we can’t allow it.

    • Submitted by Mike Worcester on 09/11/2014 - 04:47 pm.

      It was……..

      Franken’s showbiz background was discussed at great length, especially during his endorsement race, where some of his SNL writing were used against him by his opponents. (Remember the whole “rape is funny” debate?) In the general there was certainly an attempt, but it had little effect.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/11/2014 - 06:14 pm.

        You’re right. The disclosure of Franken’s past failures and foibles had little effect among lefties, which makes watching y’all bash a guy with a scandal free history as a successful executive absolutely hilarious.

        • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/12/2014 - 04:51 am.

          The question is whether McF’s background is positive or negative

          McF’s background doesn’t appear to be particularly positive.
          We don’t know who he is & nothing to this point has told us much which recommends him.

          He hasn’t articulated positions that stand without backpedaling & retraction.
          Which time was his REAL position? He’s picking positions arbitrarily, if he had to flip-flop & hasn’t been able to tell us WHY.

          That has nothing to do with any other candidate.
          What’s hard to understand in that?

          Its a tired argument to goad fictions about a senator who’s held the office for nearly a term.
          We should be comparing McFadden to himself in the stated question, not to something you want fabricate about anyone else. Ideally, we should stay on topic.

          To be an investment banker is not “inherently evil” – but it doesn’t bring anything to the table.
          The skill set, or experience has possibly as many negatives as positives.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 09/12/2014 - 12:48 am.

      Comedy

      Considering it’s Congress, his comedy experience would be an asset. Although that might be more appropriate on the House side rather than the Senate.

  11. Submitted by Jeff Michaels on 09/11/2014 - 02:48 pm.

    A really tough choice

    Let’s see, the U. S. Senate race presents a really tough choice. We have an extremely successful businessman going up against a former gag writer.

    If I want an intelligent and accomplished person representing my interests, I am voting for McFadden. If I need a punch line for a joke about a priest, a rabbi and a minister walking into a bar then the guy I look for is Mr. Franken.

    I guess the choice isn’t so tough after all.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/11/2014 - 03:15 pm.

      Ladies and gentlemen, the comic stylings of Jeff Michaels!

      “If I want an intelligent and accomplished person representing my interests, I am voting for McFadden.”

      That is a far better gag than anything Al Franken could ever have written.

      He’ll be here all week, folks!

    • Submitted by Lora Jones on 09/11/2014 - 03:25 pm.

      Huh

      Let’s see, a Harvard educated policy wonk versus a vulture capitalist whose idea of humor revolves around groin hits . . . no, not a tough choice at all. I’ll vote for Franken

    • Submitted by Eric Snyder on 09/11/2014 - 03:35 pm.

      A question

      So, people in entertainment are somehow, bizarrely, disqualified from office in your view? Would you say the same thing about Reagan?

    • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/11/2014 - 03:45 pm.

      End result: You picked a comedian – Groin-gate!

      Not a very good comedian in McFadden.
      But that’s what he seemed to think was his strength in his awkward commercials.

      Therefore, the old tired comment that tries to denigrate a Harvard grad seems doubly out of place.

      You may vote for the Groin-gater. That is your option.
      Your reason, however doesn’t speak in the least to the article!

  12. Submitted by Eric Snyder on 09/11/2014 - 03:17 pm.

    What does ‘problem solver’ mean?

    Let’s hope that the unthinking equation of business person = ‘problem-solver’ doesn’t acquire two legs and start walking. Artists are ‘problem solvers,’ as are scientists, nonprofit employees, parents, engineers, psychologists, doctors, spouses, etc. But, of course, not all business people, artists and so forth are equally rational, creative, knowledgeable, etc. in their problem solving. If McFadden is going to play up his ‘problem solving ability,’ then we should find out more about the problems he solved. Were the solutions fair to all concerned? Were the problems rather simple business problems, or great intellectual challenges?

    One massive problem I’d like to see McFadden asked about is climate change. Has he read any recent report on the issue? If not, why not? Can he name any? Does he have any understanding of the topic at all? In light of market failure to adequately respond to the challenge of climate change, what actions does he believe the government should take to address the problem? If he proceeds to mouth marionette-like slogans about ‘limited government’ “solutions” he should be pushed to answer how any such solutions can effectively respond to the great challenge that is climate change.

    Do we have any reporters in the state who are willing to do this?

  13. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/11/2014 - 04:07 pm.

    There is already ample evidence

    …in Washington of the dominant influence – official and unofficial (i.e., merely financial) – of business interests in our political structure. We already suffer from a good deal more corporate governance than I’d like, whether it’s pretending that corporations are people, and their money somehow won’t have a corrupting influence on elections when injected into political contests, or a “closely-held” family corporation (e.g., Mills Fleet Farm) deciding that providing contraception to female employees as part of a company health plan violates corporate religious beliefs.

    RB Holbrook’s “problem-solver” comment seems right on the mark to me. The notion that a single individual is somehow going to transform the way government operates makes for interesting fiction, but is delusional.

    There are zero Fortune 500 companies that are run democratically. Most CEOs, like most General/Admirals in the military, have no direct experience with democratic leadership, since most big corporations (and, I’d argue, the majority of small and medium-sized-ones, as well) are basically operated as feudal fiefdoms at best, or “Star Trek” at worst, where the guy in the chair (it’s almost always a guy, by the way) says “Make it so…” and everyone jumps to do the Captain’s bidding, whether they agree with the decision or not. They haven’t been consulted, merely expected to obey.

    That’s the world of Stuart Mills and Mike McFadden. Why would we want people like that in positions where the welfare of others might be at stake? It goes beyond McFadden’s understanding of the issues (minimal, at best), or Mills’ understanding of workers’ lives (also minimal, at best). Making (or in Mills’ case, inheriting) millions of dollars doesn’t give anyone some sort of special insight into how the society, or even business, works. At most, it simply indicates that *their* hard work has paid off handsomely, while *someone else’s* hard work has not. Wealth has no rational connection with the sort of moral or intellectual superiority that’s being ascribed to candidates that have it, and that goes for Al Franken as much as it does for Mike McFadden.

    Franken, however, has spent the past several years increasing an already-existing knowledge base of how government works – or doesn’t work. There’s no McFadden or Mills equivalent to “Lies and the Lying Liars…,” which may have been written in part for laughs (and to make some money), but which also rather pointedly illustrates the right wing propaganda machine and how it operates. Business experience is not the same, and often is of little use, in governance.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 09/12/2014 - 12:58 am.

      Post

      Very well written and thought out, Ray.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/14/2014 - 08:48 pm.

      Politics

      I am not sure if “capability” matters when it comes to the vote.

      The simple truth is that Franken supports taxing financially successful people and companies at very progressive rates, and he supports giving that money to financially unsuccessful people whether they are making responsible decisions or not. Whereas Mills and McFadden believe otherwise.

      Therefore people who support government mandated wealth distribution will vote for Franken, people who do not will vote otherwise.

  14. Submitted by Sean Olsen on 09/11/2014 - 04:17 pm.

    “Small and mid-sized businesses”

    McFadden’s firm isn’t really dealing with mom-and-pop operations, like he claims. Look at the list of the companies involved in the transactions they have been involved in:

    http://www.lazardmm.com/transactions

    “Middle-market” means something completely different to Wall Street types than to normal folks.

    • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/12/2014 - 05:06 am.

      “Investment Banker” isn’t the guy giving you a car loan?

      The question is — what is the role of an investment banker?
      No, I’m pretty sure he’s not the guy giving out home & car loans up the street.

      Is he closer to a “wall street guy?”

      The job itself doesn’t inform us about what that means in policies he would oppose or support, or his personal business ethic. We have to assume what those are, or guess based on flip-flops.

      While we can applaud his saying he was wrong about foreign steel, in the once case – we still don’t know WHY other than it were not popular with voters and interests in the state; his team must have pointed that out.

    • Submitted by Gerald Abrahamson on 09/12/2014 - 11:13 am.

      No “value add” by McFadden–as documented by Lazard.

      McFadden’s job was to buy/sell businesses–not run them.

      More importantly, he doesn’t have a clue about what to do if something goes wrong and needs to be fixed. That is NOT part of his work experience. He is a middleman–he does NOT “add value” to anything. But he does add a cost–his fees.

      McFadden is *worse* than a car salesman–because once the sale is completed, he walks away and leaves the consequences of the transaction to others. Any problems are the buyer’s. When buying a new car, at least you get the manufacturer’s warranty. McFadden does not even offer THAT service–perhaps because he is selling USED cars….

  15. Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 09/11/2014 - 06:02 pm.

    What do they propose to replace ObamaCare with?

    They want to repeal ObamaCare – and replace it with what? This is a real world issue, and real world question that we never seem to get an answer to. My family needs to know if we need to start planning for the return to health insurance premiums that simply aren’t affordable – meaning a return to life without health insurance.

    • Submitted by Eric Snyder on 09/12/2014 - 12:25 pm.

      Getting rid of Obamacare IS the GOP answer

      As far as I can tell the Republicans’ overriding concern isn’t necessarily with the cost of premiums, or coverage loopholes, or Americans being thrown into bankruptcy by medical bills, although for some of them these may be seen as problems of some urgency. Their concern is government involvement. Their view seems to be that even if the government fixes problems, this is worse than the problems themselves. Why? Merely because the government is involved, and even if government is working. Such is their anti-government ideology these days.

      I don’t think the GOP really has any ideas about what to do if they somehow got rid of Obamacare. Getting rid of Obamacare would be the solution for them, the end of the discussion. In their view, all we need to do is “let the market” decide, and if “the market” is scamming people, raising their rates, not covering necessary treatments, etc., then according to GOP political doctrine this can only be because the insurance companies are still too regulated. It never seems to dawn on them that market forces might work better in some sectors of the economy and worse in others.

      I really think we’re at the point where one of our major political parties has trouble with incorporating actual evidence into its worldview and letting evidence be a deciding factor in public policy. And we’re all the worse off for it.

  16. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/12/2014 - 08:01 am.

    “Its a tired argument to goad fictions about a senator who’s held the office for nearly a term.”

    Forget fictions. What has Franken accomplished during his near term? With the exception of his tie breaking vote to pass Obamacare, I’m at a loss to find anything for the left to crow about.

    In all honesty, the best recommendation the left can give Al Franken is that he wasn’t the bombastic fool everyone expected him to be. And that is due to the competent handling of the people hired to manage his office, not due to any maturity Franken has found.

    • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/12/2014 - 10:05 am.

      YOUR inability to see does not mean ALL are blind!

      Nice try, though. Same stunt.
      You need to make a case for the challenger on his OWN merit.

      You don’t appear to be interested in doing that – even in a thread ABOUT him.

      Its an OLD. lame & tired trick to ramble on about the incumbent when McF, the challenger hasn’t got much. Its transparent.

      If Senator Franken put his name on many pieces of legislation,
      you’d rant about that too, that he was an activist.

      You really shouldn’t try to speak for all of us, because its apparent you don’t.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 09/12/2014 - 01:11 pm.

      “Bombastic fool?”

      Are you really sure you want to play that card? Because there’s an awfully long list of people that fit that description that people like you are enthusiastically voting for. At this point, I’d say that the GOP has the bombastic fool market cornered.

      • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 09/12/2014 - 01:47 pm.

        “Bombastically fool me once, shame on you…”

        “Bombastically fool me once, shame on you. Bombastically fool me twice… a fool man can’t get fooled again…”

        Franken has been anything BUT bombastic ever since he founded the Midwest Values PAC when he began exploring a run for office. And fool… well, that’s a term I’ve never heard used to describe Franken in ANY context.

        Insert quote about people who live in glass houses here.

  17. Submitted by jody rooney on 09/12/2014 - 09:08 am.

    And I love Obamacare too

    I have self employed friends with pre existing conditions that would have gone out of business because they could no longer afford health care.

    My daughter’s clinic is now getting paid for more of their services because of Obamacare reducing the costs for all patients.

  18. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/12/2014 - 09:38 am.

    Like I said…

    Only republican true believers will embrace guys like McFadden, and here we see them in the comments doing just that.

    True believers are funny sometimes, they always seem to be re-running the LAST election that they lost. Can you believe they’re still trying to make an issue out of Franken having been a comedian? “You go boys” I say, that strategy worked soooooo well for Norm how can it possible fail for McFadden?

    I remember how these republicans squirmed with glee when Dayton and Franken got the nod. They were soooooo happy to have such passionate liberals to run against because they were soooooooo convinced that liberals would be unelectable. Here they are now with even weaker candidates running the exact same campaigns against incumbents. Napoleon once said: “Don’t interrupt your opponent when you see them making a big mistake”. Good advice.

    And again, Franken’s strength the first time around wasn’t his experience, it was his passion, intelligence, knowledge, and moral compass. Now he has all that AND experience. Politically he outmaneuvered a lot of more experienced politicians to get the nomination the first time, and I think people realized that at the time. Once he got into office he’s been anything but the class clown republicans were hoping he would be. Franken is a much stronger candidate than he was when he beat Norm, and Norm was a much stronger candidate than McFadden.

  19. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/12/2014 - 03:56 pm.

    “I remember how these republicans squirmed with glee when Dayton and Franken got the nod.”

    Yes, hopefully they well never again overestimate the standards of Democrats.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/12/2014 - 04:26 pm.

      Yes,

      And keep underestimated the standards of Minnesota voters…. carry on Thomas.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/12/2014 - 04:52 pm.

        Franken “won” by 250 votes, Paul. Please don’t paint Minnesota voters with that broad brush.

        • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/12/2014 - 09:08 pm.

          Franken won the election, Mr. Swift

          (no gratuitous quote marks needed)

          And his opponent, Mr. Norm Coleman, apparently felt that he could not beat him in a re-match.

          Thus we have Mr. McFadden who surely will lose by an even greater margin than Mr. Coleman. Because Minnesotans – the majority of them – are not stupid. Witness same sex marriage, voter id, and support for our schools.

          I hope the politics in your home state of South Carolina are more to your liking than politics here in Minnesota.

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/13/2014 - 11:53 am.

            Bill, the people of Minnesota didn’t vote to legalize SSM. If you wish to make the results of this election a litmus test on their reaction to having been manipulated, I’m with you. SC politics are wonderful, thank-you for asking.

            • Submitted by Richard Helle on 09/13/2014 - 08:22 pm.

              umm,, yeah, yeah we did

              By soundly defeating the proposed change in the state constitution we told legislators this is in your camp to take care of. And they did, after months of talking to people from their districts they crafted legislation to remove barriers and grant rights and privileges to gay couples so that they could enjoy the same legal benefits as heterosexual couples. There was no manipulation. There was no conspiracy. Now, that being said, will there be some blowback on the GOP legislators that voted for this from the lunatics in the tea party? Sure, but that problem is for the GOP to squash. And squash it they must if they hope to remain relevant.

              • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/14/2014 - 08:31 pm.

                Blow back

                Do you really think only GOP politicians will see the blow back?

                Reminder… Citizens in many rural districts voted for and passed the “no same sex marriage” amendment. Then their DFL politician ignored them and voted for same sex marriage soon after.

                For the sake of DFL, hopefully Eric’s social change/acceptance occured really fast in those districts or the constituents have real short memories…. We will find out in less than 2 months…

            • Submitted by Eric Snyder on 09/14/2014 - 11:52 am.

              Increasing support for same sex marriage…

              …is rapidly ending the debate on this issue. Opponents have no rational arguments, and the courts are almost unanimous in recognizing this. Especially gratifying recently was the 7th circuit court’s Richard Posner, a Reagan appointee, whose demands for intelligible answers from the defenders of prejudice were met with obfuscation and bewilderment:

              http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2014/08/27/listen_to_judge_richard_posner_destroy_arguments_against_gay_marriage.html

              If Mr. Swift thinks there is even a remote chance of reversing SSM in MN based on the election results this fall, he is wildly mistaken.

  20. Submitted by carrie preston on 09/13/2014 - 02:04 pm.

    Cut payroll and increase outsourcing

    McFadden says he and Lazard did not make “operational” decisions when advising clients, but it is typical in this kind of company’s report to suggest things like reducing payroll (fire some people) and redistrubute/restructure (outsourcing).

  21. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/14/2014 - 04:08 pm.

    If I’m not mistaken, and I’m not, the message was “There is already a law against SSM. Changing the constitution is mean and unnecessary.” Now among Democrats, it was certainly “wink, wink”, but I never heard “let the Legislature decide”.

    Ya can’t bring yourself to be honest about it, even now. Sheesh.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 09/15/2014 - 06:47 am.

      It never gets old…

      listening to the whining about fairness and betrayal from the same people who attempted to enshrine their bigotry into the state constitution. An amendment that was was defeated by Minnesota voters which Mr. Swift seems to forget. You lost…get over it.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 09/15/2014 - 11:56 am.

      Uh huh

      And if the Republicans had taken that hint before introducing and pushing a constitutional amendment regarding same sex marriage, it might have stayed that way for some time. But, noooo, they NEEDED to redirect the conversation from jobsjobsjobs to “omigoshickythingsidon’tlikemighthappenbanit!” They demonstrated the laser focus of a 6 week old puppy, but with a lot less cuteness. Or, more likely, they WERE laser focused on misdirection since they had no intent to actually focus on jobs. Now THERE’S a bait and switch for ya. I’m sorry, but the Republicans have themselves to blame for Same Sex Marriage. Thanks to them, those who weren’t paying attention to the issue were laser focused on it and it came back to slap them right in the face. The people spoke. They voted against the constitutional amendment because they believed it wasn’t right, which led to people saying that it’s more than just not right to ban it, it’s not right that it’s not allowed. It’s a logical conclusion that, if banning it is bad, then not allowing it to happen is bad. So, yeah, we voted for it, even if you didn’t. Democracy and all that.

  22. Submitted by Eric Snyder on 09/15/2014 - 02:57 pm.

    The myth of betrayal on same sex marriage is now a conservative urban legend in Minnesota, yet another conspiracy theory—a pervasive cognitive archetype on the right these days—immune to evidence and a more nuanced understanding. Its basic form goes: The Democrats promised that more discussion was needed and that the constitutional amendment was unnecessary. In defeating this amendment we don’t intend to legalize same sex marriage.

    The problems with this account are several.

    It depends on whom you asked. A great many Democratic activists were flat-out in favor of same sex marriage, as were a number of state legislators, well before the vote on the constitutional amendment. A simple phone call to their offices would confirm this.

    The myth of betrayal assumes it has evidence in hand that it does not. It assumes, first and falsely, a univocal stance by state Dems on SSM before the vote: “We’re of course against it, we just think the marriage amendment goes too far.” Again, this was never true before the vote. Dem opinion was more mixed. Second, it assumes that whatever was said was a deliberate lie designed to hoodwink the public. The myth of betrayal pats itself on the back for its assumed political sophistication, pretending it can read the minds of state legislators and know that a big lie about its true intentions was maintained to not scare the horses before the November elections. For this to be true, one would have to cite some evidence beyond one’s conspiratorial projection.

    The myth also depends on a forced political naiveté—that the public didn’t know that a vote on same sex marriage was inevitable. Momentum had been building and accelerating, and polls continued to show an upward trend in support for SSM—all of this was perfectly obvious.

    The myth of betrayal, to be true, can’t accept the disconfirming evidence of a public and legislative shift in opinion. The fight against the amendment galvanized massive public support, more than any other campaign in state history. Minnesotans United for All Families organized a huge number of conversations with voters, many of whom were on the fence or uncertain. As the weeks went on through the summer and fall of 2012, it’s clear that these conversations were having an effect. Whatever understanding or leaning political representatives had at some random time before the vote, it’s clear that a new awareness was emerging among people in general. Fear and uncertainty were crossing over a threshold into a sense of justice and ripeness for action. To deny that this shift occurred both among the public and among some legislators is to deny reality. To deny that times and attitudes can shift is to deny history itself. In short, the error here is to deny that what can best be explained by cultural evolution—evidence of this type of social shift is all around—and instead force a square conspiracy into the round hole of social change.

  23. Submitted by David Frenkel on 09/14/2014 - 10:30 pm.

    US is at war

    does anybody care that the US is at war in Iraq and Afghanistan and soon to be Syria? We are expanding the war on terrorism and McFadden is more concerned about humorous campaign ads that play to his base and not address the serious issues like sending US armed forces in harms way.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/15/2014 - 09:08 pm.

      Not War

      I think Obama made it very clear that this is not a war.

      By the way, what would you like them to say? “We support President Obama’s decision to re-engage in Iraq?

  24. Submitted by Linda Rolf on 09/20/2014 - 07:03 pm.

    Obstruction Wastes Our Time and Money, Minnesota!

    Mike McFadden talks about getting Washington “back on track” but his own party has done nothing but obstruct every thing the Democrats tried to pass. Basically, he must be saying he wants to get the Republican Party “back on track” then. All he needs to do is vote for the party that actually does things as opposed to block them.

    Also, the Republicans want to appeal Obamacare but they have offered nothing in it’s place. Most Americans don’t understand the policy thanks to plenty of subversion and propaganda from the GOP but the ACA is still evolving as any sweeping new policy should be. Give it a chance or better yet transition it into the Medicare option. Are the Republicans, including McFadden, offering anything new or just more of the same old, same old? I think we all know the answer to that one–don’t forget come November.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/20/2014 - 11:16 pm.

      Obstruction Saves Our Time and Money

      Look at all the spending and taxing that occurred when the DFL took control in MN…

      Imagine if that happened at the national level. Thank heavens the House has been working to control government spending and keep our taxes low.

      The last time the DFL had national control we got ACA and all the taxes required to fund it. Remember when we used to be able to put $5,000 in our flex spending medical account… Not anymore because that revenue was needed to fund ACA.

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