GOP leaders take heat for misleading public on Koch affair


Suffice to say the Amy Koch scandal/saga continues to replenish each news cycle (a tough thing to do when “cycles” disappeared a decade ago). At MPR, Bob Collins wades into the peripheral controversy over the GOP’s “council of elders” intentionally misleading reporters (and the public) over when they first learned of Koch’s “inappropriate relationship.”: “[T]he proper answer is ‘no comment,’ something the senators had no trouble saying in response to a number of other questions that were asked at that news conference. Instead, Michel intended to mislead the reporters — he refers to it as being ‘intentionally vague’ — and, by extension, the people of Minnesota. Ironically, he cited ‘ethical responsibilities’ in announcing the Koch affair in the first place. ‘We want to be as open as we can be with you,’ Sen. Geoff Michel told WCCO’s Pat Kessler, a few minutes before misleading the assembled questioners. ‘There were a number of stories that were being circulated that we were aware of that were absolutely not true,’ Sen. David Hann told the Star Tribune this week about why the leaders held last Friday’s news conference. ‘Things being said needed to be corrected.’ Steering the public down a path with falsehoods wasn’t a very logical way to do it.” Is “ethical” interchangeable with “logical”?

Here at MinnPost, David Brauer takes a Solomonic look at the way the mainstream press has avoided making too much of the role of high-profile GOP operative, Michael Brodkorb. Brauer quotes Chris Ison, former Strib reporter, saying, “ ‘I’ve been fascinated by how careful the media have been,’ Ison says. ‘I have always been pretty conservative in these situations. If I don’t have it, I don’t have it. If circumstances make me 99.5 percent sure, but no person or document says it directly, I still don’t have it. I can use those circumstances to try to leverage someone to give it to me. But if no one will, I’m stuck. I don’t make that tiny leap based on circumstantial evidence. It’s somewhat of a principle — Don’t say what you don’t know. Don’t guess or assume. But it’s also pragmatic — I’ve seen reporters get burned when they take what seem to be tiny, safe leaps. I still have to get someone to say it directly, or find a document to show it,’ he concludes.” I’m guessing the paper trail on this one is going to be pretty limited.

The West Central Tribune in Willmar editorializes on the mess, saying: “The full facts of the Koch affair remain to be disclosed. However, Koch’s fall from grace has created many significant challenges for the Republican Party. The state liability in the Koch affair remains unresolved. If Koch remains in office to complete her term and her male staff was indeed terminated, it looks like a lawsuit in the making. … Legislative Republicans have been the driving force behind the proposed constitutional amendment to restrict marriage to between one man and one woman. The Koch affair will not help the marriage amendment effort. The state Republican Party was already dealing with the resignation of the state chair and vice chair and a mounting debt problem that remains unresolved from the 2010 election and the governor race recount.”

This had to be a sight. The AP reports: “Aitkin County authorities were urging anglers to be more careful Thursday, hours after hovercrafts and a helicopter rescued about 20 people stranded on Mille Lacs Lake when a sheet of ice broke loose and began drifting into open water. … On Wednesday evening, an ice sheet about a quarter-mile from shore broke off and began drifting toward the center of the lake, eventually putting 150 yards of open water between about 20 ice anglers and shore.

Let’s hear it for good neighbors. Bill McAuliffe of the Strib reports on the outpouring after a north Minneapolis church food shelf was robbed: “It might have been enough to give volunteers a bad name: someone making off with a load of donated food instead of delivering it to the church food shelf for the Christmas Eve giveaway. But parishioners, strangers and corporate neighbors stepped up Wednesday to replenish what might have been lost at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in north Minneapolis. ‘It restores my faith in our community,’ said Tchaikovsky Rogers, administrative director for the food shelf, as she and dozens of others unloaded more than a ton of groceries sent to the church to cover the disappearance of hundreds of pounds of food. ‘People are stepping outside themselves to help others in need.’ “

Brett Neely of MPR files a report on Democratic Congresswoman Betty McCollum’s lonely stance against the St. Croix bridge: “McCollum has spent much of this year waging trench warfare against House Republicans, arguing that the GOP has been taken over by the tea party movement. But even as she’s been part of the partisan rhetorical struggle, McCollum hasn’t been afraid of lobbing a few salvos at her own side, particularly on legislation to authorize a new bridge over the St. Croix River. McCollum strongly opposes a plan to build a new four-lane span over the river at a cost of nearly $700 million to replace the aging two-lane Stillwater bridge. The plan has strong support on both sides of the river. In Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton, Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken — all Democrats — as well as GOP Congresswoman Michele Bachmann back the bridge plan. McCollum says the bridge is too expensive. ‘We could fix a lot more bridges and do a crossing at Stillwater if we used, in my opinion, more common sense on how we spend the dollars,’ she said.”

Minneapolis is still about $30 million short on cash to begin construction of the LRT/North Star transit hub near Target Field. Kevin Duchschere and Steve Brandt of the Strib write: “Hennepin County’s plans to build a rail transit hub at Target Field in downtown Minneapolis have been boosted with a $10 million federal construction grant but remain $30 million short of what officials need to break ground on the $67.7 million project. The $10 million federal grant, which officials will highlight in a visit Thursday morning to the proposed Interchange site near the ballpark, was one of 46 projects across the country announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Other regional winners were Northfield, which received $1.06 million to build a downtown pedestrian crossing area at Hwy. 3, and a $100 million North Dakota project that won a $10 million grant to raise 15 miles of rail track above flood level near Devils Lake. Hennepin County had hoped for as much as $25 million in federal money for the Interchange project, which it hopes to complete to handle increased light-rail traffic at Target Field by the time the new Central Corridor light-rail line reaches the ballpark in 2014. The area near the Farmers Market is also under consideration as a possible location for a new Minnesota Vikings football stadium.”

Twin Cities native/L.A.-bound comedian Jeff Cesario offers a commentary in the PiPress on the Vikings and Los Angeles: “From our end … we don’t really need football here. We haven’t had it for more than a decade, and we’re fine. The networks seem to need football here. Rich business people and whoever it is that makes felt pennants, they need it, but Angelenos are fine rooting for hoops (one team of which was already stolen from you), casually attending baseball and then cheering on their home NFL team. Because most everyone in L.A. is from somewhere else. … From your end … you NEED football back there. The NFL is in your blood. It gives you a reason to savor the beautiful autumn, the only tolerable season in the Upper Midwest. The mere thought of NFL football helps good Minnesotans survive apocalyptic winters, biblical spring flooding and summers featuring mosquitoes so large they have FAA identifying numbers painted on their wings. Zygi Wilf will never, ever get a fan base as zealous as he has right now in Minnesota. There is a love you simply will not find out here.”

I admit it. I dropped conservative blogger Mitch “Shot in the Dark” Berg a note wondering when he’d say something about the Amy Koch “business.” Today he did, sort of: “Much Of The Discourse On The Subject Has Nothing To Do With Amy Koch:  The ‘relationship’ with the unnamed male staffer is the issue that’s got a good chunk of the Twin Cities leftyblogosphere cackling away with their prurient, projection-addled glee.  A name has been popping up, over and over again. But none of the MSM’s sources on the subject have gone on the record with that name yet — not to a standard that a “real” news media outlet can run with yet. And I’ll confess this to you all right now — I hope the ‘rumor’ is wrong.  And I hope that the reason the subject of the tittering speculation is lawyering up is because so many of the Twin Cities’ leftybloggers and less-scrupulous media outlets have stuck their tender extremities into a meatgrinder; that they’ve defamed the ‘rumored’ staffer, and done it because they  ignored the standards of fact-checking required to defend a defamatory assertion, and exercised ‘reckless disregard for the truth’ — which is a form of ‘malice’ under Minnesota defamation law that might, with a good lawyer, be enough to void the First Amendment protection they’re all hoping to hide behind.  I’ll cop to it; my Christmas cheer is marred by a hope against hope that the next year sees an awful lot of smug leftyblogging and City-Pages-writing prigs bussing tables at Panera to pay off a humongous legal judgment. A guy can dream, can’t he? But What About The Coverup?:  We’ll see.  I’m going to do something that a whoooole lot of — I’ll be frank — dumber bloggers could stand to try; waiting until I know enough to have a perspective worth writing. Now — as to all of you leftybloggers and comment-section-lawyers who haven’t specifically condemned the massacre at Katyn Wood? Why do you support Russian genocide against the Poles?” What? “Russians”? “Katyn Wood”? “Poles”?

Mitch says he’s friends with the two names involved in the incident. So call them up and have them, you know, emphatically, explicitly deny on the record what everyone is tittering about.

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Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 12/22/2011 - 04:32 pm.

    Berg’s taken a few shots for his deafening silence. He and his minions are very good at dodging an explanation for that silence. Some of the more confused over there think that countering with the Lewinsky scandal is somehow an effective rebuttal. But hey, it’s fun to watch the squirming.

  2. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 12/22/2011 - 05:17 pm.

    To say that Berg and Brodkorb are friends is the understatement of this holiday season.

    Mr. Brodkorb worked hand-in-glove with Mr. Berg during the three years that he was associated with the Northern Alliance Radio Network.


    The “narn” became a conduit for GOP speakers such as Koch and Zellers. Patriot radio, Berg’s station, also provided a pulpit on an on again/off again basis for the notorious track-suited pastor Bradlee Dean who disgraced himself at the state legislature.

    After the Sutton resignation, the first place Mr. Brodkorb appeared was on Mr. Berg’s radio show on The Patriot. There he was quite critical of Mr. Emmer, demonstrating his take-no-prisoner approach to politics, even to those of his own party. Mr. Brodkorb is categorically incapable of heeding the political imperative: “Let the dead past, bury its dead.”

    When the history of Minnesota politics is written it should be noted that the rise of Brodkorb coincided with the streak of nastiness we currently see in the GOP. Those who dissent are labeled RINOs or quislings and party members who formerly held high office are dismissed as accomodationists.

    Mr. Berg and Mr. Brodkorb have learned a lot from each other over the years. This is evident from Mr. Berg’s tweets, blog, and radio show.

    So consider the source in anything that Mr. Berg might have to say about Brodkorb’s stunning and well deserved demise.

  3. Submitted by John Olson on 12/22/2011 - 05:29 pm.

    If the proverbial “shoe was on the other foot,” Mr. Berg and his ilk would have no problems (figuratively) drawing and quartering a DFLer in a similar circumstance to that of Sen. Koch. Early and often.

    I continue to ponder two questions:

    1) What would the Republicans have done if the Majority Leader had been a male? How would he have been treated differently-if at all?


    2) Why hold a press conference with four male Senators and essentially lie?

  4. Submitted by Charlie Quimby on 12/22/2011 - 07:11 pm.

    I have tried to think of a comment on Berg’s “projection-addled” but find myself in a hall of mirrors.

  5. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/23/2011 - 09:42 am.

    Nothing says “class act” as loudly as wishing financial ruin on political opponents. Even so, before Mr. Berg chafes his hands any more from rubbing them together with glee, he might want to do some (any) investigation into the laws of defamation.

  6. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 12/23/2011 - 11:03 am.

    Betty McCollum is absolutely right about the bridge. A bridge of the same size as the current one would more easily carry the am/pm rush hour traffic while relieving downtown Stillwater from that traffic clogging its main streets for hours every day and polluting its air.

    Those who want a BIG bridge are thinking of jobs, but not of the fact that saving millions on this one project would make that money available for bridges and roads that need maintenance and repair — also providing good jobs.

  7. Submitted by William Pappas on 12/24/2011 - 12:49 pm.

    Karin, Bernice is absolutely correct. The bridge traffic has not increased one single car in the last decade, despite predictions by MNDOT and their propoganda arm, the St. Croix Coalition. In order to build a bigger bridge, which is not needed if it lands south of Stillwater(missing the downtown historic district), Klobuchar’s exemption legislation is required. This bill will essentially devalue permanently the bridge restrictions that have been so effective in preserving designated rivers in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, especially the St. Criox as it nears the Twin Cities. You should note that many Wisconsin legislators outside of the immediate area are dead set against such an obscenely large expenditure on a bridge crossing outside of major transportation corridor. McCollum may be lonely but she can find support within the Obama administration, including Interior Secretary Salazar, Transportation Secretary LaHood (he wants a compromise) and the Park Service. Simply because MNDOT and Mayor Haryski pushed the “signature” bridge it doesn’t make it necessary to pass it because we’re tired of hearing about it. The designed mega bridge was arrogantly conceived as nonconforming and designed for an era that has passed as well. The money Minnesota approves for the bridge will mean many Minnesota bridges in worse shape will go unrepaired. Future traffic predictions from MNDOT of close to 50,000 cars a day are obviously fantasmagorical and designed to scare us into building an unnecessary span. The sooner MNDOT replaces the management responsible for this horrendous bridge decision that has prolonged the bridge discussion and begins compromising on a more budgetary and environmentally friendly span the sooner all parties can have every one of their objectives met.

  8. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 12/26/2011 - 11:52 am.

    The republicans are living a lie with their talking points and it just continues into their everyday conversation. When caught in a lie, republican Jon Kyl from Arizona said that what he says should not be considered to be factual. I guess that is true of Minnesota’s republican leadership as well.

  9. Submitted by Tom Clark on 12/29/2011 - 10:33 am.

    I think McCollum’s making a snap judgment on the new St. Croix bridge that’s based more on NIMBY sentiments than on transportation needs and scenic impacts. But when you’re building a new bridge that’s going to be there for at least another several decades, it doesn’t make sense to build one that’s barely adequate for the current amount of traffic. There’s no doubt that the Twin Cities metro area is going to continue to grow in the 21st century and part of that growth is going to be in Wisconsin given how close it is to St. Paul.

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