Kelliher campaign contribution controversy has some traction

The race for governor now has its first scandal, such as it is. Last week, fellow Democratic candidates cried foul over a violation of campaign finance laws on the part of House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher. What had she done? Tom Scheck of Minnesota Public Radio explained when the story broke: Kelliher directed donors to directly pay for a voter database from the DFL; in fact, she wasn’t supposed to do that, but should instead have taken donations and then paid for the database from her campaign. Kelliher apologized, said it was an honest mistake, and refunded, or offered to refund, the donors. And so that’s that, right?

Well, no. As of today, the story still has some traction, which is a bit surprising for a tale of apparently accidental and picayune violations of the sometimes bewildering campaign finance laws. But as of Friday, there were three donors; as of today, there are seven, and the Star Tribune’s Rachel E. Stassen-Berger gives the details: According to Kelliher campaign manager Jaime Tincher, the campaign wasn’t aware of these additional donors, and, according to the story, the donors didn’t know their money was going to Kelliher. According to DFL Party Chairman Brian Melendez, the donations credited to Kelliher were “a blunder, not a conspiracy,” but that hasn’t stopped the Minnesota GOP from trying to make political hay out of the event, hard though it may be to follow: According to WCCO, they have formally filed a campaign finance complaint.

As the Tiger Woods tale plays out, Twin Cities writers do what they do — fish for local connections. There isn’t much, but City Pages has tracked down a YouTube video of former Minneapolis graduate student-turned-Internet-meme Tay Zonday offering unbidden advice to Woods. Zonday’s suggestion: Don’t be like Pee Wee Herman. According to Zonday, Paul Reubens, who plays the manchild television host, made the mistake of laying low after his scandal, which involved exposing himself in an adult theater in Florida. We at the Glean were disappointed that Zonday didn’t offer the advice in the form of new lyrics to “Chocolate Rain” (“Tiger Woods / give a press conference, man, you know you should; Tiger Woods / Don’t be like Pee Wee Herman: misunderstood”), but, then, we sort of wish Zonday would constantly communicate in verses from “Chocolate Rain,” whether ordering breakfast (“Chocolate Rain / Are your waffles made with seven grains?”) to dropping off dry cleaning (“Chocolate Rain / Can you do something about this mustard stain?”)

The Minnesota Independent has been doing a bang-up job keeping track of the intersection of politics and religion (in fact, Daily Glean credited City Pages last week for exposing some anti-Muslim rhetoric from Keith Ellison challenger Lynne Torgerson; we should not have been surprised to later find out that the Independent’s Chris Steller had gotten there first). Monday, the Independent’s Andy Birkey offered up information about a “Prayercast” against health care reform that will feature Michele Bachmann. Birkey quotes the Family Research Council’s press release for the event, which is, shall we say, a bit heated in tone: “During the webcast, you will hear the latest on the threats to the God-given right to human life through government funding of abortions, our health from rationing, our family finances from higher taxes, and our general freedom posed by the government plan to take over health care.”

City Pages again takes aim at Bachmann, listing her “10 biggest ‘Oh no she didn’t’ moments,” which, as is their wont, they have creatively paginated across several virtual pages and illustrated with detourned found art, including an image of a naked she-demon upon which they have superimposed Bachmann’s face in a move seemingly designed to epater la Republicans, as well as epatering Christians, feminists, and possibly the uncredited artist, as it’s not clear any permission was obtained to reprint the image. Nonetheless, the list itself is a pretty good retrospective of Bachmann’s most outrageous public moments, from the Vulcan nerve pinch she seemed to attempt on President George W. Bush in 2007 to her erroneous claim that swine flu somehow comes about when Democratic presidents are in office to her notorious request that her fellow congressmen and congresswomen be investigated for anti-American sentiments.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty took a break from his world tour (which will include New Hampshire this week) to weigh in on global warming, as reported by the Strib’s Rachel E. Stassen-Berger. The governor, who in October 2007 was saying that global climate change was “one of the most important of our time,” is now claiming that the issue is “controversial” and “unsettled,” and points to the stolen emails from British and American researches that got so much play in the press recently when they were held up as evidence that scientists are conspiring to hide evidence that doesn’t support global climate change. These same letters seem to have gotten much less play in the media, however, since the Associated Press did an exhaustive review and concluded that there is no evidence in the emails that the science of global warming was faked.

Minnesota seems to be in the midst of Ponzi scheme mania. Just as the Tom Petters trial fades from the headlines, two area men have been accused of running a $160 million Ponzi scheme, as detailed by Esme Murphy of WCCO. The money quote from the story is from the pitch: “This is a sure-fire deal. It’s not a Petters-Madoff situation.” So let this be a warning: If somebody comes to you looking for an investment, and they say it’s not a Petters-Madoff situation, it may be a Petters-Madoff situation.

This is a hard place to win,” says Timberwolves forward Al Jefferson said, speaking of Utah. But, as Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune reports, the Wolves went ahead and won anyway, their third time in a row against the Jazz, who apparently also have a problem winning in Utah.

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Jeff Goldenberg on 12/15/2009 - 12:02 pm.

    Big MAK tried to Super-Size her pals’ 2009 campaign contributions. That’s not fair.

    Wasn’t she the one who got fleeced by Pawlenty this summer during budget negotiations too?

    Overall a tough 2009 for Kelliher. DFL buyers beware.

  2. Submitted by Duke Powell on 12/15/2009 - 04:31 pm.

    Mr. Sparber calls Kelliher’s problem “accidental and picayune violations of the sometimes bewildering campaign finance laws.”

    Well, no its not.

    Anyone who has any experience in politics in Minnesota knows full well that a donor/candidate cannot circumvent contribution and spending limits by giving money to a political party and have that money targeted to a specific candidate.

    In this instance, candidates for Governor have a spending limit of just under $500,000 in this non-election year. Each candidate wants to raise and spend the full amount. What Kelliher and the DFL apparently have done is attempt to get around her SPENDING limit by having the Party spend monies that would be “hidden” and not count against Kelliher’s limit. This results in the candidate spending more than the law allows. This is obviously illegal. For everyone to plead ignorance is laughable.

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