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Judges rule in GOP’s 2010 recount mess

“The Chairman” has dodged a legal bullet. Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib tells us: “Administrative judges this week ordered $1,200 in civil penalties regarding a 2010 Republican recount fund but dismissed complaints against a former Republican Party chair. The decision … may finally settle the long running turmoil over how the GOP paid for the Emmer-Dayton recount. Last year, the state’s campaign finance agency slapped the party and its former chairman Tony Sutton with $30,000 in fines over the recount fund. Since 2010, the party adopted all the debts of the recount fund …. The party now has nearly $1.7 million in debt. … Common Cause attorney Diane Gerth said she was satisfied that the judges determined that indeed, as they claimed, the Republicans’ actions violated the prohibition against accepting corporate contributions.”

Prepare for bake sales in Minnetonka … Tom Murphy of the AP says: “UnitedHealth Group, the largest provider of Medicare Advantage plans, warned Thursday that funding cuts for the privately-run versions of the federal Medicare program will force it to reconsider its expectations for earnings growth next year. CEO Stephen Hemsley told analysts that the government-subsidized coverage for elderly and disabled people faces a reimbursement cut of about 4 percent next year. That’s on top of other possible federal funding reductions and an expected 3 percent rise in medical costs. … Thursday’s outlook warning came as UnitedHealth reported that its first-quarter earnings sank 14 percent, largely due to a lower gain the company recorded due to leftover insurance claims.”

Today in gun-grabbin’ … Brandt Williams at MPR writes: “The federal government has seized 60 military-style rifles that prosecutors believe were bought by an unlicensed gun seller in Minnesota. Prosecutors believe a Minnesota man violated federal law which bans people from engaging in the business of dealing firearms without a license. … Prosecutors say he bought most of the firearms from Mills Fleet Farms stores and sold them on the online auction website, In one case, prosecutors allege the man bought a Romarm/Cugir AES 10B semi-automatic rifle from a Mills Fleet Farm store in Carver for $577.11. A week later, he allegedly sold the rifle on for $749.00.” We, of course, will assume that all of his customers were patriotic gun enthusiasts merely exercising their Second Amendment rights.

More data on the slackening drought … The AP is saying: “An updated map from the U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday rates two-thirds of Minnesota as still being in drought. But that’s a significant improvement from 98 percent previously. And the map shows the severity of Minnesota’s drought is fading. About 20 percent of the state had been in an extreme drought. Now none of Minnesota is. Most areas that had been in extreme drought have been upgraded to severe, while most areas that were [in] the severe category have been upgraded to moderate. The Drought Monitor looks not only at precipitation, which has been significant lately, but other factors too, including soil moisture and lake and stream levels, which have been improving as Minnesota thaws out.”

Mommy and daddy … no more. Says Steve Karnowski for the AP: “A judge has terminated the parental rights of a Minnesota couple accused of starving their 8-year-old adopted son, calling him the victim of preventable circumstances. The boy was severely malnourished and weighed less than 35 pounds when his mother brought him to a Mankato hospital last October because she thought he had vomited blood. Authorities said he was 3 feet, 5 inches tall, and about the weight of an average 4-year-old.”

And now we’re going to (try) to write it into law … Christopher Snowbeck at the PiPress says: “A bill in the state House of Representatives would block ownership of the University of Minnesota teaching hospitals by an out-of-state entity. The legislation was introduced earlier this month when Minneapolis-based Fairview Health Services was engaged in merger talks with South Dakota-based Sanford Health. It was approved in the House commerce committee Wednesday, April 17. Fairview owns both the University of Minnesota Medical Center and the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital, both of which are located in Minneapolis. The merger talks were called off last week, but Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, thinks legislation is still needed.”

The GleanAlso in the PiPress, a Megan Boldt story on a big environment/natural resources/ag bill that takes a step forward: “The Minnesota House passed an environment, natural resources and agriculture funding package that increases spending on groundwater monitoring and aquatic invasive species enforcement over the next two years. The $788 million spending bill was approved on a 69-61 vote Thursday, April 18. The bill raises fees across the state for water use by more than $6 million a year for increased monitoring efforts.”

With that incredible scene in Texas fresh in mind, Stribber Alejandra Matos reports: “The dispute between Minneapolis and CenterPoint Energy over who was at fault for a gas explosion near a south Minneapolis Cub Foods in 2011 is heading to court. The city of Minneapolis filed a lawsuit last month against CenterPoint Energy claiming the Texas-based natural gas company was negligent in maintaining and repairing the pipe running under 60th Street and Nicollet Avenue S. The city is seeking compensation for damages to its infrastructure caused by the blast. On March 17, 2011, the pipe exploded, sending a fireball into the sky and forcing the evacuation of six nearby blocks.”

The Strib picks up an Eau Claire Leader-Telegram editorial on the verdict in the Aaron Schaffhausen case: “It’s cases such as these that leave many Wisconsinites yearning for such options as lethal injection or electrocution, if for no other reason than the $30,000 a year or whatever it’s going to cost us to keep this coward locked up for the rest of his life. Then again, keeping a 35-year-old behind bars for the rest of his sorry days may be an even worse fate for him. Let’s hope so. … God forbid anyone comes along and undoes the jury’s decision, but we have to be vigilant, because as the years go by, people move away and die. Others forget. Schaffhausen may somehow convince someone years from now that he has found the way and wants to do good. Not in this life, child killer. Two words: Maximum security.”

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Alex Bauman on 04/19/2013 - 09:47 am.

    More expensive to kill him

    Hopefully someone reminds the Leader-Telegram editorial board that it’s usually more expensive for the government to kill someone than to keep someone alive, even for decades. We’re lucky we live in states that figured out that it doesn’t pay off to satisfy our blood thirst in these cases.

  2. Submitted by James Hamilton on 04/19/2013 - 10:50 am.

    Having read the briefs filed

    in the Common Cause-GOP matter, I’m surprised to read that all but Sutton were found to have violated the law. In my view, the evidence of Sutton’s knowing disregard of the law consisted for the most part of his own admissions and was very strong. This result strikes me as acquitting the ring-leader and convicting his stooges.

  3. Submitted by Dan Lind on 04/19/2013 - 12:43 pm.

    The verdict in the Aaron Schaffhausen case…

    Two better words, in this case, would be “Death Penalty.”

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