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TV station sees conflict of interest for Sen. Hann, others

Car dealer charged with bank fraud; FBI agent talks of Somali leaders; Romney state ads starting; drunk-driving “record-setter”; study to focus on organic dairy farming; and more.

Did you catch Tom Lyden’s Fox9 News piece on state Sen. Dave Hann? “When you vote for someone, should you know what they do for a living? That’s a question surrounding Minnesota Sen. David Hann, one of the most powerful leaders in the Republican Senate. If Republicans retain their majority after this election, Hann could be in line to be their leader. What his constituents don’t know is that he’s also currently working in the insurance industry, which is the very industry he also oversees as chair of the powerful Health and Human Services Committee. That committee is responsible for overseeing both the health insurance industry regulation compliance and health reform. … FOX 9 News attempted to contact Hann about whether he feels he’s been transparent about his new career or if there is a conflict of interest, but he said he was too busy campaigning to comment. Still, he’s hardly the only person at the Capitol with a similar conundrum. Republican Rep. Steve Gottwalt is also a licensed health insurance agent. In fact, he’s an associate of the same firm — and he also chairs the House Health and Human Services Committee. Democrats aren’t immune either. Former Sen. Jim Vickerman was a farmer who once chaired the Agriculture Committee, and Sandy Pappas — an instructor at Metro State University — once chaired higher education.”

In lieu of any recent Denny Hecker news, we have this, from Paul Walsh of the Strib: “The onetime owner of a car dealership in Grand Rapids, Minn., has been charged with scheming to cheat her bank out of about $1.5 million, using some of the money to pay for a trip to the Virgin Islands, where she rang up ‘substantial personal charges,’ according to a federal indictment. Jodi A. Montavon, 47, of Grand Rapids, was charged in federal court in Minneapolis with bank fraud and engaging in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property. According to the indictment: Montavon inflated the cost of vehicles in stock at her Ford dealership so she could borrow more from American Bank of the North than the vehicles were actually worth.” I’ll bet there’s a life-size statue of Elvis in this story somewhere.

We do, however, have a new piece on Our Favorite Congresswoman. Conrad Wilson of MPR writes: “Following a campaign event in St. Cloud earlier this month, [Michele] Bachmann named some of the things she has done for the 6th District during her last term. ‘Probably the main thing would be the passing of the Stillwater bridge crossing. That hadn’t been done for decades,’ Bachmann said. ‘But I also did the same with the Veterans’ Clinic in Ramsey. And I was able to get that built.’ … polarized responses have a lot to do with her national profile, said Steven Schier, a professor of political science at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. ‘She’s not one of these legislators who really works with the minutia with legislation and builds a reputation through committee work and floor work,’ Schier said. ‘She’s much more interested in addressing the national debate in a way that grabs public attention. And I just think that’s going to be her style as long as she’s in public office.’ ” There’s no debate on that one.

Allie Shah and Dan Browning of the Strib get an exclusive with an FBI special agent following the Al-Shabab terror network: “Others identified in the trial as leaders of recruiting efforts here include: Abdiweli Yassin Isse, 27, Cabdulaahi Ahmed Faarax, 35, and a man one witness knew as Yassin, who also goes by the nickname Abu. Wilson said Yassin has “not yet” been charged and declined to comment further about him. The other men are believed to be in Somalia. … Wilson said investigators are looking into multiple recent departures, but he would not say how many. Court testimony this week revealed that at least two young men left the Twin Cities in July and subsequently failed to return on their scheduled flights. Wilson said they are presumed to be in Somalia.”

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The GleanWe know he has the cash for it … The Washington Post’s Rachel Weiner says: “Mitt Romney will start airing ads over the weekend in Minnesota, a state that last went Republican in 1972. Romney’s campaign says they have about $169 million in cash on hand, a huge amount of money with the election only two weeks away and most swing state airwaves already saturated. While one Rasmussen poll finds Romney only 5 percentage points down in Minnesota, other public polls do not suggest that the race in Minnesota has tightened.”

I’m sure he’s changed his ways … . Marino Eccher of the Forum papers reports: “People [in New York Mills] know Danny Bettcher for all the wrong reasons. Many also know the number: He’s had 27 convictions for drinking and driving offenses, believed to be the most ever accrued in the state. The police who made the arrests remember him. The prosecutors who brought the charges remember him. The local activists trying to curb the behavior he embodies remember him. On Friday, Bettcher becomes a free man for the first time in more than three years. It’s unclear what he plans to do next — through his attorney, he declined to be interviewed for this story. But for many, he remains a symbol of the limitations of the state’s ability to keep chronic drunken drivers from getting behind the wheel again.”

The feds have coughed up $1.9 million to study the profitability of organic dairy farming. The AP says: “University of Minnesota researchers will collaborate with organic dairy farmers on a new study aimed at improving the dairies’ profitability. The project will be headquartered at the university’s West Central Research and Outreach Center at Morris. It brings farmers together with experts in animal science, entomology, agronomy and economics. A $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is helping fund the four-year project.” How fast do you think that one would be red-lined by “a proven job creator”?

That ad the DFL put up in support of Rick Nolan … the one accusing Chip Cravaack of not even living here? It’s been, uh, retrofitted. Mark Zdechlik of MPR says: “After a Duluth TV station refused to air a Minnesota DFL ad critical of Republican Congressman Chip Cravaack because it included the claim Cravaack ‘doesn’t even live in Minnesota anymore,’ the DFL has come up with a new version of the spot. The reworked ‘Pretender’ ad shares the tone of the previous spot, and is almost identical, apart from the claim Cravaack doesn’t live in Minnesota. … Although the DFL has backed down, the Nolan campaign is standing by its own ad in which Nolan looks into the camera and says Cravaack ‘doesn’t live here anymore.’ ”

Over at City Pages, Aaron Rupar makes some calls on the Facebook-fueled flap over whether GOP Rep. Mary Franson was “TRASHED” and “macked on someone elses man” at an Alexandria bar. “Franson says she had two drinks in three hours and was more than sober enough to drive herself home. But as she prepared to exit the bar and restaurant, something strange happened — one of the employees began ‘interrogating’ her about how she was going to get home and then began ‘laughing at [her] hysterically,’ according to Franson. It seemed to Franson that she was being ridiculed, and as she left she had a strange premonition that employees might call the cops as part of an effort to ‘harass’ her. On her way home, she says she was followed by a cop for a bit, but wasn’t pulled over. … seconds after our brief exchange, Franson called back and opened a vein. She called the accusations ‘disgusting’ and ‘unfounded’ and says that those who made them ‘should be ashamed.’ ”