KSTP’s Tom Hauser staples the Franken campaign’s claim that Norm Coleman is the “fourth most corrupt senator in Congress.” Hauser notes Coleman isn’t on a liberal watchdog group’s Top 20, but earns a “dishonorable mention” for his cheap-rent D.C. deal. Still, Coleman is one of just four senators among the 24 legislators cited. Doesn’t that make him the “fourth most corrupt senator?” As questionable as these rankings are, sometimes it’s worth fact-checking the fact-checkers.
AP’s Frederick Frommer does forensics on Coleman’s “leadership PAC,” which allows donors to give to him twice. Coleman then kicks contributions to other pols, who return the favor come election time. Coleman was the Senate’s biggest giver in 2003-04; he’s the second-biggest recipient now. There are embarrassing ties that bind; Coleman has returned cash from disgraced Sens. Larry Craig and Ted Stevens. Donors include “restaurants, broadcasters and accountants and companies such as Target, UnitedHealth Group and U.S. Bancorp.”
Bizarre: The PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger says a Texas lawsuit was filed, then withdrawn, claiming a key Coleman contributor gave money “to Laurie Coleman, the senator’s wife, through the insurance company for which she works to help the Colemans’ personal finances.” Huh? The senator canceled his campaign stops to fly back to the Twin Cities for a press conference that was never held. His spokesperson calls the here-and-gone claim “simply false … 11th hour, throw something out there and see if it sticks.” More on this today? Norm has an 11 a.m. news conference scheduled.
You can see the fat lady’s adenoids, at least in Minnesota: A new MPR/Hump Institute poll gives Barry Obama a 19-point lead here, 56-37 percent over John McCain. MPR’s Tom Scheck notes Obama has a 33-point lead with voters making less than 50K. Key question, probably answered Friday: Does Obama have any coattails for Al Franken? The sampling error margin is plus/minus 4.5 percent.
MPR’s Tim Pugmire is the latest reporter to call Michele Bachmann’s ads a lie (or rather, false). Bachmann claims Tinklenberg “broke the law” while MnDOT commissioner; she relies on 2003 Strib stories that note MnDOT’s statutory, not criminal, contracting procedure violations. But a fact-check fact-check: Aren’t statutes laws, too? As for Bachmann’s claim that Blaine’s taxes went up 24 percent during Tink’s mayoralty, he notes population went up 50 percent in that time.
Related: The PiPress endorses Tinklenberg and the news section features long Bachmann and Tinklenberg profiles here and here. Bachmann’s staff “abruptly” cuts off her interview with reporter Dennis Lien; his colleague Dave Orrick comes up with a thing I did not know: Tinklenberg “favors a universal health care plan, putting him left of Obama’s platform.” The two candidates debate today at 11 a.m. on MPR’s ‘Midday.”
By the way, MPR’s Scheck notes Bachmann’s campaign has bought ad time on Chris Matthews’ MSNBC show. Yes, the one where she made her “anti-America” comments. Bachmann is outspending Tinklenberg on ad time $1.4 million to $667,000; Scheck say it’s tough to buy more at campaign’s end — so how is Tinklenberg spending the rest of his million-dollar-plus windfall?
KARE’s John Croman gets some national attention for a story about how Republican ads darken the face of DFL congressional candidate Ashwin Madia. Madia’s forebears are from India. Experts agree it’s a subconsciously racist appeal — one that may nail Madia more than others, Barack Obama’s success notwithstanding. However, campaigns use this technique all the time, on everyone (I saw a recent ad do it to El Tinklenberg). That means, ironically, it’s a racist tactic used in a non-discriminatory way.
For wonks, it’s a delicious battle: Secretary of State Mark Ritchie ripping Mary Kiffmeyer’s old organization for intimidating voters. Ritchie beat Kiffmeyer in 2006; he says Minnesota Majority called “questionable” voters and misrepresented itself as working with his office, the PiPress’ Jason Hoppin writes. Voters in two counties have complained; the group says it was only trying to ferret out fraud but doesn’t speak to misrepresentation. Minnesota Independent has the affadavit and The Uptake has video of a visibly upset Ritchie.
Ending with a whimper, not a bang: Delta just about owns Northwest after the U.S. Justice Department signs off on anti-trust concerns. MPR’s Martin Moylan notes the deal hasn’t closed, but will “very soon.” The PiPress’ John Welbes values the transaction at $2.8 bil. Seniority lists still haven’t been combined and Northwest flight attendents need to persuade their Delta pals to go union. MPR’s Bob Collins has the last employee memos from Northwest’s much-loved management.
Related: Say what you will about anti-trust avoidance, but the Twin Cities had the third-biggest domestic airfare price jump in April-June 2008, the Strib reports.
The Strib’s Jim Foti and Paul Levy list the first beneficiaries of the half-cent transit tax; spending was authorized Wednesday. Fridley gets a Northstar rail stop, Apple Valley gets a park-and-ride, Metro Transit plugs a deficit and light-rail gets some operating funds.
The PiPress’ David Hanners says prosecutors recommended sentences for Ramsey County sheriff’s deputies convicted in a money-snatching case. They want three years, nine months for Mark Naylon, and one year less for Timothy Rehak.
I generally disdain individual voter profiles — too anecdotal to be representative — but the PiPress’ Ruben Rosario has a great one. It’s about the evolution of “Willie the Taper,” who once picketed a Mexican president’s local appearance because illegals were undercutting drywalling wages. Now facing foreclosure, Willie “no longer holds illegal immigrants mainly responsible for his financially challenging lot in life.” He says he was “terribly naïve,” wonders why his union doesn’t have more minorities and blames both parties for the country’s predicaments.
Gleaning up: In my continuing effort to educate you about judges, I neglected to mention a Wednesday report on the Court of Appeals race by City Pages’ Beth Walton. The challenger, Dan Griffiths, hates a “retention election” proposal that would end competitive races. Nice overview of a largely unknown proposal.
The Strib’s Mary Abbe says the Minneapolis Institute of Arts has returned a Nazi-looted $2.8 million painting, Fernand Leger’s 1911 “Smoke Over Rooftops.” The collector from whom the painting was looted inspired a 1964 Burt Lancaster movie, “The Train.” The story is a highly readable narrative of the art-verification process.
It’s baaaack! “Tony ‘N’ Tina’s Wedding.” In St. Paul, according to the Business Journal.
Nort spews: Kevin Love had a good debut as the Wolves beat Sacramento 98-96; Britt Robson is your game-report go-to guy; his thorough analysis is here. Sore Loser here. (Conflict-of-interest note: My last remaining freelance gig is a monthly “Where are they now?” column for the Wolves’ fan magazine; take that into account when reading anything I write about the team.) The Wild lost for the first time in regulation this year, 4-2 to Dallas.