‘Anonymous donor’ funds anti-gay marriage DVD mailing

An “anonymous donor,” you say? That’s who we have to thank for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ unprecedented mailing of 400,000 DVDs to state Catholics calling for additional legislation to ban gay marriage. Elizabeth Dunbar and Madeleine Baran’s MPR story says: “[Archbishop] Nienstedt told Minnesota Public Radio News that it’s the first time the diocese has used a mass DVD mailing to inform church members of specific church teachings or beliefs. He said the video, distributed about six weeks before the gubernatorial election, was not a ‘political statement’ or an endorsement of any candidate. He said he does not know how much it cost to produce or distribute the DVD, and said that private donor who funded the effort ‘asked to remain anonymous.’ In the video, Nienstedt says that allowing same-sex couples to marry would change the meaning of marriage for all Minnesotans.’ ” Its understandable the church would  move so aggressively against homosexuality, I mean since their work sheltering God’s homeless and feeding His hungry is pretty well wrapped up.

Sally Jo Sorenson, of the Tom Emmer-chewing Bluestem Prairie blog, files an eye-opening piece on the seven times Emmer has refinanced his house … since 2002. “Emmer’s first mortgage on his home in Delano was an unconventional two-year mortgage. The $300,000 mortgage from State Bank of Loretto, secured in September 2002, appears to be the sole instrument used by Emmer to finance the $425,000 purchase price of the home. I haven’t seen a record of the satisfaction of this mortgage before its October 2004 maturity date. (Wright County Property Records, Document 820583; All records were found at the Wright County Auditor’s office.) It appears as though each mortgage on Emmer’s home, including the original, have been unusual short term instruments. He has twice used home equity credit lines of $250,000 to finance his home.” She adds, “Things got a little more hairy in 2005. In November, Coleman, Hull & Van Vliet, PLLP, on behalf of the State Bank of Loretto, holders of Emmer’s mortgage, issued a Notice of Pendency of Proceeding to Foreclosure Mortgage on the property. (Wright County Property Records, Document 988266). Disaster was headed off on January 5, 2006 when Emmer obtained a new mortgage on the property from First Commercial Bank. The new mortgage allowed him to satisfy his mortgage with State Bank of Loretto, and foreclosure proceedings ceased.” Personally, I like a guy with first-hand experience with deficits.

There may be something in the punch bowl at the Emmer offices. The double whammy over the weekend of (ex?) campaign chairman of Rep. Mark Buesgens DUI arrest and the revelation that he was seriously under water with his home mortgage wasn’t, uh, good. Better news for Buesgens came yesterday with news that the sheriff’s office has temporarily stopped the foreclosure sale of his house. The AP story offers some loan numbers that really do appear to be trending in the wrong direction: “A notice published last week in the Jordan Independent said there was $717,289 due on the mortgage, which had an original principal amount of $644,000 in June 2004. Tax records show the 2,345-square-foot home and 1,000-square-foot garage were valued at $542,200. The Buesgens family bought the land in 2001 for $99,000.” Now, I’m no Constitution-waving conservative outraged at out-of-control government spending, but I’m pretty sure that the principal is supposed to decrease over the life of a loan.

“For the most part, these claims are true.” That’s Catharine Richert of MPR’s PoliGraph political ad fact-check blog on the AFL-CIO‘s hit-job mailer on Emmer for voting against funding for infrastructure repair that would have included the I-35 bridge. The mailer says: “ ‘Emmer voted three times against funds that would have repaired broken infrastructure across Minnesota, including the I-35 bridge. He even voted against the final attempt to rebuild infrastructure before the bridge collapsed.’ ” And that, “ ‘Emmer was one of only ten representatives that voted against efforts to compensate victims of the bridge collapse’ ” and that ” ‘Emmer opposed a $6.6 billion plan to rebuild roads, bridges, and transit throughout Minnesota even after the I-35 bridge collapse.’ ” Richert rules: “For the most part, the AFL-CIO mailer is correct. On three occasions, Emmer voted against legislation having to do with the bridge collapse or general bridge repair in the state, though it’s important to note that the 2007 transportation funding bill did not specify repairs to the I-35W bridge.”

Apparently I have to issue an apology to the hard-working Denny Hecker beat writers, (who I accused Wednesday of slacking their duty). The Strib’s Dee DePass is back on the case with news that Hecker’s bankruptcy trustee Randall Seaver is now suing him and girlfriend Christi Rowan over $124,000 in insurance policies and check exchanges this past summer. (Denny didn’t miss a lot of dinners at Manny’s). Writes DePass: “The complaint also accused Hecker of writing four checks totaling $124,353 against liquidated or borrowed Prudential insurance policies in June. Seaver submitted to the court a loan application form signed by Hecker that sought to borrow $30,000 against a policy in the name of Hecker’s daughter, Holly. Seaver said Hecker and Rowan used Your Exchange check cashing services to cash checks from the insurance company. ‘Hecker converted the Prudential check proceeds to cash, Western Union money orders and a pre-loaded Mastercard. Hecker thereafter provided Western Union money orders to Rowan,’ the complaint said.” Why do I think that, like Tupac, Denny will continue delivering hits long after he departs the scene?

Folks who may never have had a flustered moment over being caught a bit short include, of course, a couple of the Cargill heirs. Forbes magazine’s annual cash-porn feature on the richest 400 is localized by the Strib’s Patrick Kennedy: who writes, “Brothers Cargill MacMillan, who Forbes now lists as living in Indian Springs, Calif., and Whitney MacMillan claimed the top spot among Minnesotans, and ranked 79th overall with $3.8 billion each. Other Minnesotans on the list were Richard Schulze, $2.5 billion; Glen Taylor, $2.2 billion; Stanley Hubbard, $1.75 billion, and the families of Barbara Carlson Gage and Marilyn Carlson Nelson, each at $1.6 billion.”

The change of seasons will stall the idea, but St. Paul is testing out the idea of “pop-up cafes,” basically a couple of tables’ worth of seating on a platform in a parking space. The PiPress’ Frederick Melo explains that the cool kids on the coasts are, like, already there. “The concept has been tested in San Francisco and along the narrow streets of Lower Manhattan’s financial district, but it’s a first for St. Paul. Developer John Mannillo, chair of the Friends of Mears Park, has proposed a block-length pop-up cafe for four months a year, with outdoor seating shared by the wine bar, Barrio Tequila Bar and the Bulldog Lowertown. ‘You’re not using up a drive lane and parking space for eight months of the year, when you don’t need it,’ Mannillo said.” Now, I like the alfresco thing, but do I really want to get closer to the dump truck idling at the light?

Also in St. Paul, I’m not sure if $10,000 will cover the hit Central Corridor businesses will take during construction of the new LRT line, but it is better than a politician telling them to bootstrap it. Brent Renneke’s Business Journal story explains: “Small businesses will each have the opportunity to receive up to $10,000 in the interest-free deferred loan. The city said the loans will help the local economy during the construction of the Central Corridor light-rail line, which will connect downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul.”

Go ahead and debate the relevance to the campaign, but City Pages’ Hart Van Denburg isn’t letting go of the story of Tom Emmer’s kid’s underage boozing and strip club antics. The police report on the July 10 incident — when 19-year-old Tripp Emmer was a paid staffer on dad’s campaign — has been released, and those things are always good, lurid reading. Says Van Denburg: “Emmer has also chosen to make Tripp and the rest of his family part of his campaign, billboarding them in a video extolling his Republican family values and budget-cutting acumen. So earlier this month we decided to publish photos from Facebook that offered a different look at Tripp Emmer — the ones without the family values. In image after image he’s shown, as a 19 year old, whooping it up with beer in hand at a party. And in one now notorious photo, he can be seen posing over a passed out woman on whose face someone has drawn penis pictures. And he’s smiling, giving a big thumbs-up.” OK, the kid is 19 … but he posted that on Facebook?

Van Denburg also has posted video of Tea Party darling Christine O’Donnell (of withcraft without masturbation fame) and Al Franken on Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect” circa 1997. With Michele Bachmann a highly likely opponent for Franken in  2014, this kind of “discussion” may have some future pertinence. He reports: “Here’s what set them off: Part of the welfare reform bill signed by Bill Clinton in 1996 included $250 million for sex education in public schools. But states would only get that money if their sex ed programs included teaching that sex outside of marriage has harmful physical and psychological effects. The holier-than-thou ones froth about consistent morals and how sex is bad. And Franken calmly suggests they and Congress are a boatload of hypocrites.”

Four inches of rain fell overnight in some places in southern Minnesota. MPR’s Tim Nelson files, saying: “Steele County emergency manager Michael Johnson said this morning that water covered the roads in more than 30 areas around Owatonna overnight, and that the sheriff’s office still has some roads barricaded where the roadway is underwater. Johnson also said that the Owatonna Fire Department evacuated about five homes as a precaution, asking residents to leave and turning off utilities in homes along the Straight River and Maple and Turtle creeks. He said that there wasn’t time to sandbag or otherwise protect the homes.”

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Comments (30)

  1. Submitted by Karl Bremer on 09/23/2010 - 09:56 am.

    Can any legal scholars out there explain why this anonymous donor and the Catholic Church should not be subject to the same financial disclosure requirements applied to MN Forward, Alliance for a Better Minnesota and other independent groups who advocate for or against political positions and candidates?

  2. Submitted by Tim Walker on 09/23/2010 - 10:04 am.

    I thought Christians, and the Catholic church, were about compassion and loving all of God’s children.
    I guess I was wrong.

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/23/2010 - 11:36 am.

    The DVD is “not political” in the same way that Tom Emmer, Tom Horner, and Mark Dayton are “not political.”

    Thanks, Brian, for pointing out that “Its understandable the church would move so aggressively against homosexuality, I mean since their work sheltering God’s homeless and feeding His hungry is pretty well wrapped up.” In addition, we shouldn’t forget the Catholic Church’s own spotless record when it comes to homosexual activity… with 9-year-olds.

  4. Submitted by Rich Crose on 09/23/2010 - 12:04 pm.

    I think I understand the church’s position –it’s okay to have a homosexual relationship with an alter boy, you just can’t marry him. Correct?

  5. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/23/2010 - 12:14 pm.

    Gawd, the Archdiocese activism has got to really frost the scary smart, reality based community; you can’t threaten to boycott something you’ve already been boycotting for years.

  6. Submitted by Stephen Dent on 09/23/2010 - 12:16 pm.

    They level of hypocrisy from the leadership of the Holy Roman Catholic Church is moving beyond belief. First they deny the level of sexual abuse committed by their clergy and then they deny the timing of their “sanctity of marriage” DVD has any political bearing at all. Who can believe either statement? It is past the time for the federal and state authorities to investigate this organization and start treating them for what they truly are – a huge lobbying group – and then start taxing them like they do everyone else.

  7. Submitted by Patricia Gundersen on 09/23/2010 - 12:28 pm.

    I don’t necessarily think there was a secular, anonymous donor. It is very possible that the
    Vatican donated the money. Their coffers overflow…ex Catholic.

  8. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/23/2010 - 12:31 pm.

    Headlines we’d love to see:

    “Boycott put on hold”

    “Outraged pro-homosexual groups announced today that they are searching of some leftists that aren’t already boycotting the Catholic Church to commit to begin doing so immedietly.”

  9. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 09/23/2010 - 12:35 pm.

    Rep. (R) Mark Buesgens and the problem of his home mortgage being underwater is not unique. What is unique is that some of the more conservative commenters have not chimed about how CRA, Freddie and Frannie along with Barney Frank must have had something to do with it.

  10. Submitted by Michael Hunt on 09/23/2010 - 12:59 pm.

    Amused by yet another pronouncement from the resident expert from the smart=elitist, reality denying community. “Threatening a boycott”? Funny, didn’t see that anywhere in the posts, Brian’s comments or the original story. But, as usual, “if it ain’t a fact, then make it up.”

  11. Submitted by Bruce Hope on 09/23/2010 - 01:09 pm.

    Keep workin’ it Swift. The hated and feared leftists aren’t the problem and you know it. The Catholic Church is. I notice that you didn’t defend the Church, either their position or the DVD. So, do you agree with the Church or not? Is this DVD protected speech or political speech? Does it matter who paid for it?

  12. Submitted by kay smith on 09/23/2010 - 01:29 pm.

    Emmer’s refinancemania reminds me of Norm Coleman’s 12 refinances. What’s going on with these ‘conservatives’?

  13. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 09/23/2010 - 02:02 pm.

    Considering the Catholic Church has only recently vindicated Galileo, this leftist doesn’t feel too bad about not having wasted my time with it. Apparently to be conservative in this country one needs to have missed the enlightenment entirely. Fifty years from now we’ll look back on folks like Mr. Swift like we now look at those who tried to prevent the civil rights movement. While the existence of such stone-age opinions riles me, I’m comforted by the fact that the future will come no matter how hard conservatives dig in their heels.

  14. Submitted by Swanson Painter on 09/23/2010 - 02:38 pm.

    It is long past time to remove tax exempt status to all religious organizations. There are very few that do not preach politics from the pulpit.
    That the Catholic Church would deem it necessary to fund such a project with so many other needs is yet another reason I left that unholy organization.

  15. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/23/2010 - 03:05 pm.

    Oh, far be it from me to presume to defend the Catholic Church, Bruce. That job is already filled.

    Matthew 16:18

    I’m content to just sit back and watch the circus!

  16. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 09/23/2010 - 03:26 pm.

    Neither the archbishop (and other leaders like him) nor the priests who abused children are representative of 99.99% of ordinary Catholics.

    For most of us, social justice and personal charity and kindness come first. Pre-Vatican II restrictions on the primacy of individual conscience are way down on any list.

    On the issues of gay marriage and abortion, some Catholics, like Nienstedt, join other right-wing religious almost-fundamentalists in thinking the laws and Constitution of the U.S. and the individual states should conform to a religious belief unsupported by either science or the general culture in defiance of the First Amendment to the Constitution and Section 16 (Freedom of conscience; no preference to be given to any religious establishment or mode of worship).

    I wonder how the archbishop and the Michele Bachmanns and Tom Emmers et al. would respond to a demand that these documents be changed to conform to Sharia law or Buddhism or any other religion.

  17. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 09/23/2010 - 04:07 pm.

    Just so we’re clear, does that Bible verse also take care of defending the whole pedophilia cover up thing?

    This is what I was talking about with the whole enlightenment/reason thing. “The Bible is true, the word of God.” “How do you know?” “It says so.”

  18. Submitted by Sherry Gunelson on 09/23/2010 - 05:08 pm.

    I was more enlightened by Emmer’s multi refinancing activity. This explains why his comments and positions on the budget seem to lack any basis in economic reality. I doubt he understands it.

  19. Submitted by Bruce Hope on 09/23/2010 - 05:19 pm.

    I guess I didn’t expect Thomas Swift to actually take a side in this debate. But instead suggest that the Church defend itself with (wait for it…) a bible verse. Really?

  20. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 09/23/2010 - 07:01 pm.

    OK, for those of you who didn’t look it up, T.S.’s verse says this,

    “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”

    Of I’m shocked that T.S. didn’t include the verse that follows the one he sited:

    [Speaking to Peter] “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

    But perhaps that’s going a bridge too far.

    Naturally the Catholic Church, which claims verses 18 and 19 are the two thousand year old stamp of approval that make it the one true church ignores the contraction implied in the words just four verses later in Matthew 16:

    “But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

    The fellows of “The Jesus Seminar” voted almost unanimously to say that Jesus never uttered any of these verses nor anything like them but that they were added by the writer of Matthew to support Peter’s position of primacy in the early church.

    Personally I find it impossible to believe that God, being the excellent student of human nature that I take God to be, would commit to being faithful to whatever fool thing a human that human’s religious descendants on earth might choose to do or to believe at some future time.

    God is far too wise (and had already had far too much experience of the boneheaded unfaithfulness of God’s chosen people) to invest in any one group of humans a level of responsibility which no human after Jesus could ever live up to.

    So the church can claim whatever it wants but, in my experience, no matter what the denomination, God is, as often as not, trying to work around the leadership of the churches and calling those people “with ears to hear” to be more faithful than their leaders would have them be.

    DVDs against gay marriage? That would fall into the category of the very things God is calling those “with ears to hear” (and eyes to see and hearts to feel and intuition to inform them) away from.

    But of course its hard to resist that big money especially when you’ve had to pay out so much for your failure to admit you had a very serious problem built into the institutional design of your organization (and equally hard to admit what other purposes money was given for by the same source in order to win support and an official stamp of approval for this travesty of faithfulness to God’s will).

    At any rate, rest assured, one and all, that God is NOT bound by what any church, no matter how large or small, no matter how young or old, nor by what any church leader or member does or believes here on earth.

    None of us can claim that God is on our side. Our chief concern should be, as Abraham Lincoln stated so eloquently, “whether we are on God’s side.”

  21. Submitted by James Hamilton on 09/23/2010 - 10:30 pm.


    “There’s no discrimination when there isn’t a basic right to something,” he said.

    Some day, Archbishop, we will recognize the fundamental right to love and make a family with whome we choose. What will your argument be then?

  22. Submitted by James Hamilton on 09/23/2010 - 10:32 pm.

    Re: The Mortgage Master

    I guess it’s a good thing we can’t borrow our way out of our current budget issues. “Unless, of course, Rep. Emmer is going to put it on his MasterCard.

  23. Submitted by James Hamilton on 09/23/2010 - 10:56 pm.

    Thanks for the link to Bill Maher. Most entertaining thing I’ve seen in weeks.

  24. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/24/2010 - 08:47 am.

    I kept waiting for someone to note the incongruity of believing that the Catholic Church’s doctrine concerning homosexuality is based upon arbitrary decisions, but, considering the horrors admitting homosexuals to the priesthood has wrought, it somehow wouldn’t be following the exact same path it is today.

    Faith or observed common sense, either way the church is (finally) doing the right thing.

  25. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 09/24/2010 - 09:41 am.

    Thomas, the church unwittingly admitted pedophiles of both heterosexual and homosexual orientation. This wasn’t their fault, but covering it up was (although I suppose you could argue that lifelong celibacy is so grossly unnatural that you’re bound to have problems.)

    If you can’t figure out the difference between a homosexual and a pedophile, I think we may be entering the territory where reasonable commenters on this site should cease to engage you.

  26. Submitted by Bruce Hope on 09/24/2010 - 09:41 am.

    The Catholic Church allows homosexuals into the priesthood? Comment noted. But what horrors? I think Thomas Swift is trying to equate homosexuality with the pedophilia cases in the Catholic Church. Nice dodge. But I’m not surprised he would try to link homosexuality with a mental illness. It certainly serves his purpose, but it is a lie.

    The Church was wrong to have sent these DVDs.

  27. Submitted by Karl Bremer on 09/24/2010 - 09:47 am.

    Jeff Klein:

    “If you can’t figure out the difference between a homosexual and a pedophile, I think we may be entering the territory where reasonable commenters on this site should cease to engage you.”

    That territory was entered long, long ago, Jeff.

  28. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/24/2010 - 10:16 am.

    Jeff and Bruce more than 75% of the abuse were cases of pederasty, not pedophelia. I am well aware of the difference, are you?

    Oddly enough, I do hold the church liable for the abuse. Seminaries were well aware of what was happening among the ranks of the priesthood, but chose to cast a blind eye.

    Thankfully “change is what’s happening”.

  29. Submitted by Bruce Hope on 09/24/2010 - 10:33 pm.

    Thomas Swift does hold the church liable for abuse. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

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