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D.C. Memo: Second District, second election?

This week from Washington, Rep. Jim Hagedorn’s consultant, Rep. Angie Craig’s unusual election and the NRCC again.

Rep. Angie Craig
MinnPost photo by Walker Orenstein
Rep. Angie Craig may have to vacate her seat in January for a February special election.
Welcome to this week’s edition of the D.C. Memo. This week from Washington, Rep. Jim Hagedorn’s consultant, Rep. Angie Craig’s unusual election and the NRCC again. Let’s get on with this.

Innovative marketing

A radio host regularly interviewed Minnesota First Congressional District Rep. Jim Hagedorn. But something was left unsaid: The host didn’t disclose that he’d been paid $64,450 by the congressman.

Al Travis Thielfold, who hosts Al in the Afternoon for KTOE in Mankato, was a paid Hagedorn consultant, while also interviewing the candidate on the radio. Daniel Newhauser, who’s been consistently on the Hagedorn beat for the Minnesota Reformer, has the story. 

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I asked Thielfold about his connection to Hagedorn. “You might enlighten me as to why I am a news story?” he responded via email. “I have had IMT for 26 years no one has cared until today,” he said, referring to his consulting firm, Innovative Marketing Techniques.

But this is not the first time Thielfold has been scrutinized for his work with politicians in the First District: Bluestem Prairie, in 2012, reported on a similar situation.  As of this week, KTOE has cut ties with Thielfold, according to the Mankato Free Press. 

“We want our audience to believe that we are 100% fair and that is the case,”  Matt Ketelsen, one of the owners of KTOE, said in an interview with his station. “And so we decided that we’re going to take Al off the air.”

Second election for Second District?

Rep. Angie Craig is dealing with something very unusual: Her election, pending a federal court challenge, may be moved to February. 

Last week, Adam Weeks, who was running for Minnesota’s Second District as a member of the Legal Marijuana Now Party, died. First reported by the Minnesota Reformer, Weeks’ death will trigger a special election due to Minnesota law, meaning votes cast in the general election for a congressional candidate in the Second District will not be counted.

If she does not succeed in her legal challenge, Craig will have to vacate her seat in January. The Clerk of the U.S. House would then temporarily take over operations of her office.

Craig’s lawsuit will be heard by a federal judge next Wednesday. 

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By the numbers

Conservatives try to smear Omar, again

An expansive network of conservative media stars shared and posted about a video that suggested Rep. Ilhan Omar was a part of a massive ballot fraud operation. The biggest problem with the video is that it’s full of false information and that its main source of information is entirely unverified.

The video was created by Project Veritas, a widely discredited group that harasses and tries to infiltrate news outlets and campaigns. The Daily Dot was unable to verify the credentials of the main source in the video, Omar Jamal.

However, none of this stopped prominent media figures like Sean Hannity and President Donald Trump from sharing the information. Sahan Journal has an explainer on the entire situation. 

According to researchers at Stanford, the Veritas video was a coordinated disinformation campaign that one of the president’s sons may have known about in advance. 

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NRCC

Last week, I reported on how the National Republican Congressional Committee, under its chair, Rep. Tom Emmer, is backing QAnon-affiliated candidates. A quick primer from that story:

If you’re not paying attention to the insular (but ever expanding) online world of QAnon, the baseline theory is that President Donald Trump is engaged in a secretive fight against a group of Democratic satanic cannibal-pedophiles who run the world (many of these tropes echo age-old antisemitic conspiracy theories). At the center of it all is “Q,” an anonymous online figure who QAnon believers think may be in the Trump administration (this is not substantiated).

This week, BuzzFeed has a story on how the NRCC fed into a coordinated campaign against Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey, who has been threatened and targeted by QAnon followers. Malinowski said he interacted with Emmer and asked him about this explicitly:

“He said, ‘I don’t know what Q is’ and walked away. … He said, ‘I can’t be responsible for, you know, how people use our stuff and I don’t know what that is.’”

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In other news

Quote of the week

“A man came up to me. A tough man. A man who — a worker, a construction worker. Real worker, and he looked at me — this is two years ago, he said, ‘Sir, you have given us back our life.’ And he was crying. He was crying. I said when was the last time you cried? I said you never cried when you were a little baby. He can’t remember. This guy was tough as hell,” President Trump said in Duluth on Wednesday, explaining an anecdote that may or may not be true. 

What I’m reading

Ryan Brooks and Nidhi Prakash for BuzzFeed: The Presidential Debate’s Racism Segment Was Grim

A quick recap of the debate, which I think captured what happened pretty well: “In the first presidential debate, Trump repeated racist tropes and tried to attack Biden as the real racist.”

That’s all for this week. Thanks for sticking around. Until next week, feel free to send tips, suggestions, and sound advice to: gschneider@minnpost.com. Follow at @gabemschneider. And don’t forget to become a MinnPost member.