Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


T-Paw back in Romney VP rumor mill

Sensenbrenner backs Lance Armstrong; Target takes heat for not carrying CD; continued dueling for Accretive and Swanson; and more.

Our Guy, T-Paw, is still getting a lot of attention as Mitt Romney’s possible Veep choice. The Christian Science Monitor is saying: “Almost a year after he abandoned his White House bid, Pawlenty’s reputation as being suitable but not a standout is actually fueling the speculation that the former Minnesota governor is a serious contender in Republican Mitt Romney’s search for a running mate. … To hear these insiders tell it, the earnest Pawlenty might end up satisfying many Republicans without risking the unwelcome distractions that could result from a running mate who is flashier than the nominee, who has close ties to an unpopular past administration or whose background has largely avoided scrutiny. … During his eight years leading Minnesota, Pawlenty restricted abortions and expanded gun rights. He also stocked his state’s judiciary with conservative judges and made frequent use of vetoes and executive budget-cutting powers to curb spending.

At something called Policymic (“Next Generation on News and Politics”) Matthew Rosza resurrects an old Pawlenty scandal-ette: “Before he became Governor of Minnesota, Pawlenty spent two years on the board of directors for NewTel Holdings, a telecommunications corporation owned by his longtime friend Elam Baer. In addition to this work, Pawlenty also earned $4,500 a month as a consultant and legal adviser to a pay-phone company called New Access, a NewTel subsidiary accused of defrauding thousands of customers in seven states by signing them up for local and long-distance service without their permission. Although Pawlenty has been happy to talk about other aspects of his business career, he has stayed remarkably mum on the exact nature of what he did for New Access. His relationship with Baer did not end there. In his first year as governor, Pawlenty was discovered to have accepted $54,000 in cash from Baer, despite being unable to document any work done in exchange for this payment. To make this transaction legal under Minnesota state law, Pawlenty classified it as compensation for his purported performance as an ‘independent contractor.’ ” Hey, he was just minesweeping for the job creators.

Simultaneously, at BuzzFeed Politics, Andrew Kaczyinski reminds his readers of how regularly T-Paw used to bash Romney on health care: “The former Minnesota governor’s’s first attack on Romney came in the midst of the first push by Congress to pass the Affordable Care Act in July of 2009. Pawlenty dinged the former Massachusetts Governor in a Washington Post op-ed in early August. The op-ed was countering a now infamous op-ed by Romney which ran in USA Today in which he argued President Obama could copy his plan in Massachusetts. ‘Massachusetts’s experience should caution Congress against focusing primarily on access. While the Massachusetts plan has reduced the number of uninsured people, costs have been dramatically higher than expected,’ wrote Pawlenty. ‘The result? Increased taxes and fees. The Boston Globe has reported on a current short-term funding gap and the need to obtain a new federal bailout.’ Pawlenty added that Congress should think about applying that approach to the nation.”

Every oppo-camp’s bible on all things Pawlenty may be The American Bridge group’s 493-page log of T-Paw’s career. It is not flattering. Sample: Quoting from Pat Kessler’s WCCO-TV “Reality Check”:

The Glean “According to station WCCO, ‘Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty says the 2010 legislative session ended well for Minnesota taxpayers. The governor, who is a possible candidate for president in 2012, said he’s held the line on taxes and spending since his election 8 years ago. But is it true? … He also claims credit for lower taxes, too. ‘We did,’ he said. ‘We recently got Minnesota out of the top 10 in taxes.’ That’s MISLEADING. The credit is, at the very least, shared with a previous governor. Independent Governor Jesse Ventura’s income tax cuts pushed Minnesota off the Top 10 list during Pawlenty ’s term. Pawlenty never cut income taxes, but he didn’t raise them, either. However, it doesn’t mean we aren’t paying more. Here’s what you NEED TO KNOW. You are paying billions of dollars more in fees on a long list of items, including cigarettes, parking tickets, marriage licenses, building permits, court cases, college tuition and hundreds of other higher fees on Pawlenty’s watch.

With friends like this, Lance Armstrong doesn’t need any more enemies. The AP reports that Wisconsin’s James Sensenbrenner (Google for history of “odd” public statements) is outraged over the charges against the biking champ: “[The] Wisconsin congressman equates the anti-doping charges against Lance Armstrong to a conspiracy theory and calls the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s authority over the seven-time Tour de France winner ‘strained at best.’  Rep. James Sensenbrenner, a Republican, wrote the Office of National Drug Control Policy on Thursday questioning the nearly $10 million in public funding USADA receives, its procedures investigating and charging athletes with doping violations and whether it receives regular oversight.”

Hey, come on over and pick the rest of ours. The AP says that some places in the Midwest are struggling with their tart cherries: “97 percent of Michigan’s crop was destroyed this year by a freak weather pattern. An unseasonably warm March that caused trees to bud was followed by an April freeze that killed the blossoms. Trees in New York and Wisconsin, which have smaller but still significant tart cherry harvests, suffered the same weather damage. … When tart cherries had a poor harvest in 2002 and dried cherry prices went up, companies that make granola, scones and other foods simply substituted other fruit, said Terry Sorenson, the president of the Wisconsin Cherry Growers Association.”

You blunder into this stuff and it takes a long time to reduce public skepticism. Target is taking a bit of heat over its decision not to sell a new CD by Frank Ocean, a singer who recently came out as gay. At The Huffington Post, they are saying: “Frank Ocean’s album may currently be the most buzzed about disc in music, but Target isn’t interested. Billboard reports the discount retail giant announced it will not sell Channel Orange, claiming the decision was a reaction to iTunes’ one-week exclusive. Many are wondering, however, if the move was actually inspired by the fact that Ocean recently came out. … The brand has a complicated history with the LGBT community. Target first faced a strong backlash after donating $150,000 to MN Forward, a group that was backing Tom Emmer’s gubernatorial bid in Minnesota. Emmer was known for being especially conservative and not supporting equal rights for LGBT citizens. At the time, Target Corp.’s CEO Gregg Steinhafel said the company was merely championing a candidate who would be an advocate for its business interests.”

It’s hard to see how Accretive, the bill collection crowd from Chicago, modulates its dilemma here by continuing its fight with AG Lori Swanson, but … Tony Kennedy’s Strib story says: “Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson released a new batch of patient affidavits Thursday on Accretive Health Inc. — including accounts by parents who said they were hounded for payment while their crying children waited for care — as she and the Chicago firm traded filings over the merit of her lawsuit. The sworn statements were filed in U.S. District Court in response to Accretive’s attempt to have Swanson’s lawsuit dismissed. … One affidavit describes a suicidal girl curled up in fetal position beside her parents at the Fairview Riverside emergency room last winter. As the parents waited for a psychiatrist, a collections employee walked up and demanded that they immediately pay $800, even though they had excellent insurance coverage, the mother’s affidavit said.”

At City Pages, Andy Mannix says Minnesota home buyers may have overpaid/been overcharged $63 million in fees in just the last two years: “Consumer Advocates in American Real Estate — a non-profit that monitors the housing market — says Minnesota home buyers have collectively spent more than $63 million in needless fees since 2010. ‘It’s all unnecessary,’ says Doug Miller, real estate attorney and executive director of CAARE. ‘There’s no good reason for it.’ The watchdog group released a statement on its website accusing the Minnesota Department of Commerce of sending out a misleading press release to realtors, alleging it effectively eliminated certain discounts, and transferred a fee traditionally paid by the home seller to the buyer.”