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D.C. Memo: Something in the (Still)water

Minnesota’s delegation heads home, Hagedorn announces reoccurrence of kidney cancer and a Minnesota conspiracy theorist unveiled.

photo of stillwater across the st. croix
A Washington Post story revealed Stillwater as the home of conspiracy promoter “Sean from SGT Reports.”

Hello and welcome back to the D.C. Memo. This week you can find me scrambling to reset my wifi router as Tropical Storm Elsa knocked our power out. (Yes, this did actually happen while trying to finish up this week’s Memo.) Elsa made an appearance on the East Coast Thursday, though in D.C. it didn’t feel like we got hit too hard. All bad weather aside, here’s what we’ve got in store in the memo: Minnesota’s delegation heads home, Hagedorn announces reoccurrence of kidney cancer and a Minnesota conspiracy theorist unveiled.

Somehow it’s always infrastructure week

With Congress in recess this week, members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation are traveling around the state to inspect various problems and successes in their districts’ infrastructure. Sixth District Representative Tom Emmer was under the Stearns County Road 75 bridge with Stearns County and St. Cloud officials to check out the status of the 67-year-old structure. Stearns County leaders are hoping for $1 million in federal funds to help cover the $3 million bridge replacement project. The funding could come through the infrastructure bill, Emmer said. Despite support for federal infrastructure funding, Emmer voted “no” to the INVEST in America Act, a bill that provides funding related to highway safety and transit and  recently passed in the House.

In Duluth, Eighth District Rep. Pete Stauber held a roundtable Wednesday to hear from local labor and industrial leaders “about the economic and safety benefits of accelerating the delayed work on the Garfield Avenue and Interstate 535 interchange on Rice’s Point.”

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“It’s time to invest in this,” Stauber said. “Our port is growing… We want to have the safest routes to and from because those businesses that want to do business with our ports, they look at not only the world-class port we have but the actual road infrastructure in and out.”

Meanwhile, Second District Rep. Angie Craig joined Sen. Amy Klobuchar to tour a small manufacturing business in her district and highlight their legislation that would help small manufacturers access loans.

Hagedorn announces return of kidney cancer

Rep. Jim Hagedorn announced the reoccurrence of his kidney cancer on Wednesday. The first district representative was first diagnosed in February 2019, and had been receiving care at Rochester’s Mayo Clinic.

“Over the weekend, recent tests conducted at the Mayo Clinic revealed a reoccurrence of my kidney cancer,” Rep. Hagedorn said in a statement. “The new diagnosis was surprising considering that just 14 weeks ago no cancer was detected.” Hagedorn said that his diagnosis has not prevented him from doing his job and that he has no intentions of slowing down.

Fischbach’s got company

Minnesota’s Seventh District Representative Michelle Fischbach already has a challenger for the 2022 elections. Mark Lindquist, a 39-year-old Air Force veteran and motivational speaker, announced on July 1 that he plans to run against Fischbach as a Democrat. The Seventh Congressional District spans almost the entire western third of the state.

Lindquist said his first policy proposal is to further fund and otherwise support research into potential health effects caused by the “burn pits” used by the U.S. military throughout the Middle East. More research, he feels, would pave the way for more VA benefits and health care coverage for veterans who were presumably harmed by the pits’ fumes.

“It is the Agent Orange of our generation,” Lindquist said in an interview with the Bemidji Pioneer. “Some of the healthiest men and women in America, which are the United States military members, are coming down with rare cancers and rare health effects that just, statistically, would not be present in healthy males and females of their age.”

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Fischbach, a Republican who’s served as a Minnesota state senator and lieutenant governor, took the district from Democrat Collin Peterson in the 2020 election. Peterson had held the seat since 1991 and was the most senior member of the Minnesota delegation.

Some conspiracy theories, as a treat

This is a little bit bigger than Bigfoot: The Washington Post released an investigation this week into a Stillwater man who called himself “Sean from SGT Reports” while he promoted conspiracy theories about dark forces in American politics on websites and social media accounts in a business he runs from his home.

The guy’s real name is Sean G. Turnbull, and he’s a 53-year-old former marketing manager for “one of the country’s largest retail corporations who lives in a well-appointed home” in Stillwater.

Turnbull reported that his business was generating between $50,000 and $250,000 annually in 2019, according to a voluntary business survey he answered and submitted to the Minnesota secretary of state that year.

In a 2½-hour interview with the Washington Post, Turnbull acknowledged he was the founder of the SGT site and said he was motivated not by profit but by a drive to explore issues largely ignored by the mainstream media.

Some of those “issues” included claiming the 9/11 attacks were a “false flag” event and that coronavirus vaccines are an “experimental, biological kill shot.”

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What I’m reading

  • Nikole Hannah-Jones’s tenure dispute is over. Black women professors say it’s not yet time to move on, The Lily. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones was offered a teaching position at the University of North Carolina, but after vitriol from conservative activists she was not offered tenure with that job. After much controversy, Hannah-Jones decided to take a position at Howard University instead, in a move that sent a clear message to UNC. This article goes into Hannah-Jones’ decision process and the trials and tribulations Black women in academia are still fighting.
  • “Cat Person” and Me, Slate. I don’t want to give away too much of this story, but I implore you to read this strange tale of a woman whose own life suspiciously mirrored a fictional story. She wondered how this complete stranger knew so many details about her life and relationships, and walks the reader through her discovery process.
  • The White House gender pay gap (or not) explained, Washington Post. As someone always interested in gender disparities in the workplace, I was a little astounded to see that women in the Biden White House earn 99 cents for every $1 earned by men. This is a huge improvement from the Trump administration (a 37% gap in 2017). But in further analysis, the numbers get a little bit more scrambled. Check out this article if you want a deeper understanding of gender dynamics in an office that has committed to more gender equity in the country it leads.

That’s it from me this week. As always, please feel free to send any questions, comments or your own Minnesota conspiracy theories to, or find me on Twitter at @byashleyhackett.