The Strib’s Jennifer Bjorhus details the groups that received money from Tom Petters’ two foundations. There’s a weird deal where a former Schiek’s strip club owner’s foundation gave one Petters charity $250,000, while receiving $25,000 from the other. Then there are St. John’s monks who say they can’t give back the $2 million used to upgrade the church where Petters’ parents worshipped. The recipients don’t have to give back the dough ($11.8 million in recent years) unless they knew of the fraud.
More Petters foundation: Experts question “lavish fundraising galas” that sucked up 40 percent of the $3 million raised in 2006 and 2007.
Bonus Petters story factor: an “eww”-worthy picture of Petters with David Spade.
By the way, I screwed up Tuesday and didn’t reference a fine bit of muckraking by Minnesota Indepedent’s Karl Bremer, who discloses deeper entanglements between Michele Bachmann and a Petters co-conspirator than the congresswoman acknowledges. Also, the Petters fiasco bankrupted five investment funds run by the same company, the Strib’s Jennifer Bjorhus reports. Chicago-based Lancelot Investments is the largest creditor ($1.5 bil or so) in the alleged fraud.
KSTP’s Tom Hauser finds a Bachmann attack ad against El Tinklenberg largely false. The false part: Tink broke no laws while MnDOT commissioner; a claim about his Blaine mayoral stint can’t be verified. Hauser gives the ad a “D.” He also looks at the plague of direct-mail campaign ads, which get less scrutiny but may be nearly as influential as TV ads. This is microtargeted spam. Hauser dings an anti-Ashwin Madia hit piece.
In the hotly contested west-metro 3rd Congressional District race, Republican Erik Paulsen has a 45-44 lead over DFLer Madia, KSTP reports. The Survey USA poll shows Independence Party candidate David Dillon (who wasn’t named) drawing 9 percent, most of it from Democrats and liberals. Paulsen has gained 2 points and Madia lost 2, but the surveyers note that’s not significant. Minnesota Independent’s Paul Demko highlights a tool that tracks party congressional-race spending.
Important and astute piece from the PiPress’ Bill Salisbury, who notes the state’s deficit will dominate the next legislative session — but candidates aren’t talking about it. Wha’ts more, voters aren’t asking. DFL House Speaker Margaret Kelliher says they won’t boost taxes to balance the budget, but taming a $2 billion to $4 billion deficit with cuts alone is brutal. Salisbury says 77 percent of spending is for education or social services. (You can bet the GOP will target the latter.) This will dominate the news next year.
We haven’t heard much about legislative-level campaign finance, but the Strib’s Mike Kaszuba notes the House DFL caucus outraised its GOP counterparts $2.4 million to $1.3 million. Labor unions, Mark Dayton’s ex and other “prominent individuals” hold DFL strings. AP’s Brian Bakst says Indian tribes also boosted Dems. Anti-tax groups and apartment owners are a few backing the Republicans, who say (not incorrectly) that the Dems owe more special-interest chits now.
Related from the same story: The “Vote Yes” habitat/arts amendment has brought in $3.7 million, compared with Vote No’s $107,526. Mark Dayton’s ex, Alida Messinger, gave $1 million (previously reported), while ex-guv candidate Wheelock Whitney and Marvin Windows’ Susan Marvin helped fund the opposition. Interesting; Marvin is based in Warroad, where you’d think the outdoors money would be a big deal.
Of course, raising taxes might not go over so well up north as layoffs hit the Range. With half the nation’s steel plants idled, taconite titan Cleveland Cliffs will temporarily cut half its production. No word on precisely how many workers will be furloughed, but the company employs about 1,000 workers at two facilities and a mine.
A guy who owns nearly 10 percent of Target wants the megaretailer to sell its land and lease it back — which could include the downtown Minneapolis HQ. The Strib’s Jackie Crosby has a great explainer; William Ackman has seen Target’s stock price slide (from $70 to $38, the PiPress’ Gita Sitaramiah notes), so he wants a big one-time “special dividend” payday that will leave the company in worse shape, local analysts say.
More Target: Ackman helped force Target to sell some of its credit card business, but the company sounds like it will fight this move.
Ohmigod, Katherine Kersten: the Inver Grove Heights City Council unanimously approved the expansion plans of TIZA, the Arabic-language charter school, KSTP reports. That’s the “Muslim” school Kesten loves to demonize.
Norm Coleman wants to keep his job by demanding convicted felon Ted Stevens resign his, everyone reports. But Stevens says he won’t resign. Did anyone ask if Norm would vote to expel the Alaska senator in that case? I can’t find it in anyone’s copy. The PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger notes Coleman won’t return $12,000 from Stevens donated for the 2002 race because it’s already been spent. Well, how about disgorging an equivalent amount now?
Bizarrely, Coleman shared a stage with Michele Bachmann last night, Stassen-Berger reports (leaving out the bizarre reference). That’s a swing-vote getter! Al Franken has a slightly more appealing cross-promotional event Thursday, noted here.
The PiPress’ David Hanners crafts a fascinating constitutional-law story: Did police have the right to bust into an RNC protester’s parked trailer without a search warrant? The Supreme Court recently gave cops increased power to search cars without warrants, but that’s based on mobility; does a not-readily mobile unhitched trailer qualify? Inside were makeshift riot shields made from stolen highway cones. There are nice details on how an alleged snitch infiltrated the operation.
My continuing efforts to get you educated about judicial races gets a boost from MPR’s Elizabeth Stawicki, who has a piece on religion-oriented Supreme Court challenger Tom Tingelstad. The Strib’s Rochelle Olson profiles both Supreme Court races and a Court of Appeals contest, noting Appeals challenger Dan Griffith is running against incumbent Terri Stoneburner mostly to uphold the judicial-elections principle.
Incumbent protection program: The Strib’s editorial board passes on one contested Hennepin County commissioner’s race because members “decided to interview only candidates running for open seats.” Thus, incumbent Randy Johnson gets off scot-free, and challenger David J. Nystrom gets screwed. Still, the headline blares “Callison, Johnson in Hennepin County.” Turns out there’s another Johnson — Jeff — that the Strib took the time to endorse. You can at least read about Randy Johnson’s race here.
Related: The lefty site MnPublius claims the editorial board also shortchanged 2nd District DFL congressional candidate Steve Sarvi on endorsement interviews.
Death by compost, from the Strib.
How long before they make locks for catalytic converters? Prompted by this PiPress story.