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'Pay-to-play' state senator taking heat over staff email


That e-mail, first reported by Sally Jo Sorenson on her Bluestem Prairie blog, has state Sen. Scott Newman’s office telling a representative of the Minnesota Nurses Association that they would never get a meeting with him because they supported his (defeated) opponent in the ‘10 election? “Just an error, that’s all.” Mike Kaszuba writes on the Strib’s “Hot Dish Politics” blog: “Newman, who is from Hutchinson and sits on the influential Senate Health and Human Services Committee, said he had first heard of the email early Tuesday morning. “It’s just an error, that’s all,” he said. ‘I’ve tried to limit the lobbyists that are coming in to see me involving committees I’m on and issues that are important to me,’ he said. ‘I literally feel besieged’ by lobbyists. ‘I don’t have time to talk to constituents. I don’t have time to get any work done,’ said Newman.”

For her part, Sorenson follows up, writing, “[T]he Strib's phrasing — ‘freshman legislator’  is somewhat misleading. Scott Newman served in the Minnesota House from 2004 through 2006, and thus isn't a first-term legislator. He is a first-term senator, and the Strib should use the more precise language. Certainly, the Minnesota House has ethics rules as well. But perhaps Newman's blaming his secretary will be a sticky excuse. As for Newman first hearing about the email Tuesday morning  I'm surprised that the Republican Party of Minnesota (whose IP address showed up on my site traffic software in a hit on the post late yesterday afternoon) didn't contact the Senator about the news.”

The lefty blogs are eating it all up. Jeff Rosenberg at MNPublius writes: “So Newman is unwilling to take responsibility for his own actions. What about his caucus leaders? Why has the Senate GOP leadership been silent? They must discipline Newman and show that they are committed to representing all Minnesotans. Majority Leader Amy Koch has an obligation to ensure that her caucus members behave ethically — failure to do so is giving tacit approval to Newman’s actions.”

Joe Kimball, here at MinnPost, adds a response from that aforementioned opponent, Hal Kimball. “During my time with the Minnesota State University Student Association, I worked with higher education groups across the state. We worked to set up meetings with legislators in a strong effort to "Freeze Tuition." We met with virtually every State Representative and Senator, except then Representative Newman. I literally chased him from the House chambers to his office in the State Office Building trying to talk to him about higher education issues.”

Today’s Pawlenty radar finds columnist Jeff Mapes of The [Portland] Oregonian jabbing at our former Governor for his shifting views on cap-and-trade. Writes Mapes: “In 2007, Pawlenty was quite happy to be seen as taking the lead on fighting climate change at the time the Bush administration was downplaying the issue. ‘The nation has been asleep at the switch,’ Pawlenty said in a 2007 press release, ‘but here in Minnesota we are kick-starting the future by increasing our nation-leading per capita renewable fuel use, boosting cost saving measures and tackling greenhouse gas emissions.’ That was then.  By the fall of 2008, when the economy was taking its deep dive, Pawlenty was on Glenn Beck's radio show saying that the ‘debate on cap and trade has faded into the background’ as people are struggling to pay their bills, reported.”

He adds: “[R]eading about Pawlenty, I'm struck by how much this happens with governors. Members of Congress may have to take thousands of votes, but governors actually have to put laws in place and help administer them. And when they find themselves on a national stage, they often look at what they did in a different light.” ... A warm and flattering light.

Several outlets have picked up on Pawlenty’s not-exactly-new-to-us suggestion in his speech in New Hampshire last night that Social Security benefits be limited when it comes to wealthier seniors. Philip Elliott of the AP quotes Pawlenty saying: “ ‘What that means is, in the future, if you are wealthy, your increase to Social Security will be smaller than if you're middle income or lower middle-income or poor.’ Pawlenty said drawing lines between classes is not ideal, but the nation faces a mathematical reality in what it can afford. He called the scaling ‘reasonable’ but added it would not be enough to solve the entire national debt that now totals $1.4 trillion. Pawlenty also said raising the retirement age is an option he's willing to consider for younger workers entering Social Security programs.”

Denny! It’s been too long. But our favorite car dealer is back in the news today, accusing his lawyer and the (overworked) bankruptcy trustee of ... lying. John Welbes of the PiPress reports: “In a seven-page, hand-written, rambling letter that Denny Hecker wrote to a bankruptcy judge, the fallen auto mogul accuses a bankruptcy trustee and his own former attorney of lying to the court. The letter to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel — written in pencil and dated Jan. 17 — says Hecker's former attorney, William Skolnick, lied about where Hecker obtained $75,000 a year ago to secure the title to Hecker's Medina home. Once the bankruptcy court trustee, Randall Seaver, figured out Skolnick's alleged deceit about the source of the funds, Seaver held ‘the lies over [Skolnick's] head’ to extract information from Hecker that ended up hurting his bankruptcy case, Hecker says in the letter. ‘I am not saying I am not guilty at all,' Hecker writes near the top of his letter. But he expresses frustration that Seaver and attorneys for Chrysler Financial ‘stood before you and lied to you.' " And thanks for that concession, Denny, about "not being guilty at all."

Yes, alcohol was involved. Jessica Fleming of the PiPress has the story of two guys boozing and watching football Sunday: “Robert Michael Thomas and James Koenig were drinking and watching football Sunday when a fight erupted. Burnsville police said the argument left Koenig dead and Thomas in jail. Both have had previous issues with alcohol, according to court records and Thomas' estranged wife.” Somehow you knew there was going to be at least one estranged wife in a story like this.

Get your sleeping bags and start camping out now. Target, ripped for writing checks that supported anti-gay politicians, has an “exclusive” deal that will allow you to buy ... the new Ricky Martin CD. I am NOT making this up. Tom Webb, also of the PiPress says: “Martin, who recently confirmed he is gay, is releasing his first new studio album in six years, titled ‘Musica + Alma + Sexo’ (Music +Soul + Sex). On Feb. 1, Target stores and will sell an extended version with seven exclusive tracks, including unreleased songs and dance mixes. Target's version also contains a solo version of the single, ‘The Best Thing About Me is You.' A video of the song delivers a strong message of tolerance, including a pro-gay theme.” I can’t tell from the story how much of Target’s profits from the “exclusive” deal will go to gay-related charities.

Tom Scheck of MPR has a story of a luncheon of the Minnesota congressional delegation in D.C.:  “DFL Rep. Keith Ellison said all eight members of Minnesota's House delegation sat down and broke bread today. ‘We don't know what we might work on unless we get together and talk about it,’ Ellison said. Ellison said the new dean of Minnesota's delegation, DFL Rep. Collin Peterson, called the meeting. He said it's the first time the delegation got together to talk about issues. Ellison declined to discuss the full details of the meeting but said one main theme was improving the state's education system. ‘There may be some common ground there,’ Ellison said. ‘Everyone knows we have to have an educated populace.' " And yes, if you’re wondering, Michele Bachmann did attend.

A Sporting News story says Twins first baseman Justin Morneau has reached a point with his concussion where he is being told to push through it: “ ‘Now he's at the point that the doctors told him if you have any small symptoms of that concussion just fight through it, just work through it and he said he's been feeling real good,' [Twins GM Bill] Smith told MLB Network. 'He's doing all his conditioning work right now. He'll start the baseball activities. He did say he played catch the other day. He's going to start swinging the bat probably the first of February, which gives him two months before opening day.' " He played catch the other day?

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Comments (5)

..“It’s just an error, that’s all,”...

Seems like a lot of work went into that "error". A staffer unilaterally researches contributions/endorsements by a party seeking a meeting, and then unilaterally decides to send a note informing the party that because of their contribution/endorsement they can't meet with the senator.

Sure, it's an error NOW...

Now that it's been exposed.

But prior to that (and likely after the furor dies down) it sounds like standard operating procedure for Senator Newman who either doesn't want his ideology contaminated by listening to the actual concerns of real people or...

doesn't have the courage to even speak to those who are being, or who are going to be seriously hurt by the policies he's hoping to foist on the citizens of the state of Minnesota all to be sure our state's most fabulously wealthy citizens don't have to contribute a few nickels out of the excess pocket change they've accumulated over the past few years.

Sen. Newman,

If you can't stand the heat - get OUT of the kitchen. If you can't handle getting your work done, meeting with lobbyists and your constituents, then get out and let someone who can handle the workload take over! It's not like you didn't know what you were in for when you chose to run.

Most legislators will tell you that a lot of the information they use to formulate or respond to legislation comes from lobbyists who have the time to research the issues and provide facts and figures that they don't have time to do. Yes, they often come with a viewpoint you may disagree with, but if their sources are non-partisan, then you need to collect as much information as possible.

The problem with the Scott Newman issue is that there is even a legislative assitant in the Republican caucus that has that attitude. It is just one plank in platform of "we don't care what people think." And, let's face it, she just put in words what most of the Repbulicann legislators think all the time.

If the Chamber of Commerce of Minnesota couldn't talk to a legislator because they had contributed, directly or indirectly, to his/her opponent they would have been screaming bloody murder.

BL: Target, ripped for writing checks that supported anti-gay politicians...."

WHA Huh?!

Target wrote checks to pro-business organizations.

The orgaization in question made a campaign contribution to a pro-business candidate.

The candidate in question has previously stated he is opposed to the state's recognition of "gay marriage", in other words, marriage being anything other tahn between a man and a woman.

You're getting your agenda mixed up with your bias, all in a bowl of inaccuracy.