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Tough ABM attack ad on Emmer, drunk driving arrests

Alliance for a Better Minnesota (ABM) will begin airing a tough new attack ad against Repub guv candidate Tom Emmer, raising Emmer’s two arrests on drunk-driving-related charges as a young man, plus a bill he sponsored to delay and soften penalties for alcohol-related driving offenses, and connecting those dots through the eyes of a mother whose child was killed by a drunk driver.

Emmer was charged with DWI in 1991, when he was 30. He pleaded guilty to a charge of careless driving. The two allegations of drunken-driving in that incident were dropped. In 1981, when he was 20, he also received a DWI-related ticket.

In 2009, Emmer sponsored a bill that would have changed Minnesota law to allow accused drunk drivers to keep their driving privileges while the charges against them were pending and would have lowered penalties for a conviction for impaired driving.

When the Strib wrote about the bill and Emmer’s arrest record, he said: “We all come to the Legislature with life experiences, but it has nothing to do with this bill. This is a good bill.”

The Legislature never voted on the Emmer bill.

I’m seeking a new comment from Emmer in light of the ad.

Alliance for a Better Minnesota is a liberal, labor-linked group that has already started advertising against Emmer. The new ad, the third attacking Emmer, will start airing tomorow and is backed with a budget of $500,000. Emmer had nothing to do with th incident 2007 drunk driving incident that killed John Everson, the son of the woman in the ad, and Jillian Banks. Kevin Roban, the drunk driver in that case, received the maximum permissible sentence of 11 years in prison. Kevin Roban did not have a valid driver’s license and authorities say his blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit at the time of the crash, according to coverage of the case at the time..

This link will get you a youtube of the ad, plus ABM’s backup information.

Comments (16)

  1. Submitted by Ed Kohler on 07/27/2010 - 04:41 pm.

    The pro-Emmer Wikipedia editor that tried to scrub Emmer’s DWI record from his Wikipedia page later gave up on trying to remove history and, instead, countered with a mention of Emmer’s DWI legislation proposal (not bill, proposal, as you’ve pointed out).

    At that time, M.A.D.D opposed Emmer’s legislation, which gives one a sense of whether it was stronger or weaker on DWI offenders.

  2. Submitted by James Hamilton on 07/27/2010 - 04:43 pm.

    Mr. Emmer is correct in saying that we all bring our life experiences with us. It’s a bit odd, however, to then suggest that his own experiences had nothing to do with the bill he sponsored.

    His sponsorship of a bill repealing the implied consent law went far beyond allowing “accused drunk drivers to keep their driving privileges while the charges against them were pending”. The implied consent law is law enforcement’s primary tool to obtain the samples needed to prosecute. Modify the law? Perhaps. Eliminate it? I’ll look forward to his defense of that move.

  3. Submitted by John E Iacono on 07/27/2010 - 04:44 pm.

    What I heard in the ABM ad:

    >Tom Emmer has a history of alchohol related driving offenses. This is true. That these offenses were years ago, however, is not mentioned.

    >Tom Emmer sponsored a bill to reduce the penalties for persons with alcohol related offenses. This is true. What those changes were, however, is not mentioned.

    What I am expected to conclude from this, I believe, is that Tom Emmer is a drunk, approves of drunk driving and does not care about victims of it, and so should not be governor. This is an untrue inference, made even worse by the failure to mention the relevant facts above.

    It becomes an excellent illustration of how to tell a lie by telling half-truths to draw false conclusions.

    But this is typical political rhetoric. I expect tons more of the same, from both sides.

  4. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/27/2010 - 05:10 pm.

    A ‘half truth’ (and I don’t see any incorrect statements here) is not the same thing as a lie.
    I do agree that this is old news — I’m much more concerned with what Emmer is doing (or not doing) and proposing (or not proposing) NOW.

  5. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 07/27/2010 - 06:27 pm.

    GOP partisans will scoff at the ad.

    Undecideds/Independents will file it away while recognizing the negative associations of drinking and relating it to Emmer’s personal history.

    DFL partisans I would imagine, are quite happy with the ad and its political message.

    Simple, yet convincing. I would grade it a B. If they would have used Rep. Emmer’s DWI mug shots I would have gone with a B+.

  6. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 07/27/2010 - 06:57 pm.

    I have to agree with John Iacono – this is an attack ad that relies on half-truths. I would never vote for Emmer for any public office, but this ad merely attacks, it doesn’t inform.


    We’re just entering a grotesque season of television, with untold millions of dollars wasted on similar advertising that will either attack opponents or spin a candidate’s record into something unrecognizable, and sometimes do both simultaneously. After the primaries consolidate the field, we’ll still have to suffer through the same sort of expensive inanity and character destruction for 90 days more.

    I’ve read that the British limit campaigns to 6 weeks. Too bad we can’t – or won’t – adopt a similar policy.

  7. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 07/27/2010 - 11:05 pm.

    All snark aside. I agree with both John and Ray. Though I can only imagine how the GOP will soften up Dayton if they choose to go after his personal issues. On second thought it will be third party ads that will take credit for the dirty work.

  8. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 07/28/2010 - 06:49 am.

    It seems that I’ve been told endlessly that folks on the Left are just too darned nice to really attack someone. This obviously must have been produced by some righties that have infiltrated the nice, gentle folks at Alliance for a Better Minnesota. Or maybe that particular talking point needs some updating.
    I’ve also been told that using fear to paint an opponent unflatteringly is a Republican tactic. Perhaps the naive waifs on the Left can update that point too.

  9. Submitted by John Olson on 07/28/2010 - 07:43 am.

    Folks on both sides of the ideological aisle are fully capable of ginning up attack ads. My own suspicion is that we have a long ways to go before we reach the bottom.

    The ‘Daisy’ ad produced by the LBJ campaign in the 1964 presidential campaign should adequately dispel any notions of nicety on the Democratic side. Walter Mondale’s campaign tried a similar approach in 1984 and we all know how well that worked.

    Both sides are going to dish it out early and often. Both sides had better be ready to take it as well.

  10. Submitted by Stephan Flister on 07/28/2010 - 08:36 am.

    Republican apologists love the ‘both sides do it’ dodge, as long as it is they who get to define what ‘it’ means.

    I swat a mosquito if it lands on me, the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District kills mosquitoes in a systematic, relentless, never-ending, dedicated, total-war sort of way.

    But yes, we both kill mosquitoes.

  11. Submitted by John E Iacono on 07/28/2010 - 10:58 am.

    (#4) Paul Brandon says:
    A ‘half truth’ (and I don’t see any incorrect statements here) is not the same thing as a lie.”

    I had a professor, a long time ago, who had a favorite saying: “The false is never so false as when it’s almost true.

    A half truth IS a lie, which is why when witnesses take the oath they say “the truth, the WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth.”

  12. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/29/2010 - 11:56 am.

    John, since you like to quote dictionaries, here’s one from Merriam-Webster (the REAL Webster):

    “Main Entry: lie
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle English lige, lie, from Old English lyge; akin to Old High German lugī, Old English lēogan to lie
    Date: before 12th century

    1 a : an assertion of something known or believed by the speaker to be untrue with intent to deceive
    b : an untrue or inaccurate statement that may or may not be believed true by the speaker”

    The statements about Emmer were neither untrue nor inaccurate.
    At most, they left out some additional facts which might have affected how readers would rate the importance of those facts.

    Your second and third statements are non sequiturs.

  13. Submitted by John E Iacono on 07/29/2010 - 07:17 pm.

    So, then, we will simply have to state that the ads do not tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

    Good thing they are not on the witness stand, then, as that would make them perjury.

    But then, we never expect politicians to so speak, do we?

    One more quote, from Lincoln, confronted by Douglas engaging in the kind of speech you defend:
    “…I don’t want to call him a liar, but when I come square up to him I don’t know what else to call him.”

    I’ll stand with Lincoln on this one.

    And, by the way, my dictionary IS a Meriam Webster. Look it up in yours.

  14. Submitted by John E Iacono on 07/29/2010 - 07:18 pm.


  15. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 08/02/2010 - 11:05 am.

    I saw that ad last night and I was glad for it, not so much because it was honest but because it was a good attack along the lines that the Republicans have been using since the Newt Gingrich years. They’ve been pushing those types of distortions for years. Is this worse than the attacks on Kerry’s war record or the recent video assualt on that black woman wrestling with her conscience? Or death panels or so much more? It stated facts and left out any modifying details that would have given a clearer picture, pure Republican gamesmanship.

    To me a half truth would be Emmer’s comments that he would reduce state spending without detailing one actual real cut. He’s making excuses about this because he knows how people will react to his cuts. There’s a good reason why big business supports him.

    I’m looking forward to the attack ads about Emmer’s history of lawsuits and other business problems. I think the Republicans made a big mistake chosing such a radical who thinks that compromise is such a bad thing. May we look forward to years of Elacono and Swift whining about how unfair life is and how dumb or deluded or dishonest all us lefties are.

  16. Submitted by Kathleen Jones on 11/04/2010 - 09:32 pm.

    Eric Black,

    As you stated above, Kevin Roban did get the maximum permissible sentence in this case. If you read the bottom of the article on the link you provided about the case, John’s dad, Mark Everson says, “If you look at his background, I don’t see how you could reach another conclusion.”

    His “background” was not simply driving without a license and a blood-alcohol level that was three times the legal limit. He was also high that night from marijuana. He had already been on probation SIX times, for a wide range of crimes, and ALWAYS violated it, which including completing mandatory chemical-dependency treatment programs. He was currently on probation for felony burglary and felony domestic assault when he killed John and Jillian, and had gotten a DWI the year before as well. He had border violations as well. With this individual crime, he was charged with TWELVE felony counts.

    The background of Kevin Roban that John’s father was referring to, was out of control to the point of absurdity.

    You said that his final sentencing was the “maximum permissible sentence”, implying that justice was served. He was given 11 years (and he will get out in 7). He had a rap sheet that began at an early age and got increasingly worse with each subsequent crime. He never repaid his debts to society because he violated probation each and every time, and he never learned anything from it. He ultimately got behind the wheel severely intoxicated and high and killed two people. Those people’s parents and loved ones got to pay the price for his complete disregard for any kind of boundaries, rules, consequences, the law, or the greater good.

    He had an insane criminal background to begin with, killed two people, and he will sit in jail for 7 years. That’s 3 1/2 years per person. And it is the harshest sentencing in Hennepin county history!!! Justice was not served.

    Rather than make it illegal to drive with a drop of alcohol, the .08 legal limit is there as a grace to people who have had 1 or 2 drinks who are completely fine to drive. For a politician to have 2 drunk driving violations and obviously think he was treated too harshly, and want to therefore lessen their consequences, speaks very low his sense of duty and obligation. And his sense of “personal responsibility” — the capstone of his platform.

    This ad is not saying that Tom Emmer is responsible for John Everson’s death, as you very incorrectly inferenced from the ad. It is saying that for any individual to say that drunk driving penalties need to be more lax, it is a GIANT slap in the face to people who have had to pay the true and hard consequences, such as the woman in this video, for drunk drivers.

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