Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Ex-Bachmann aide: Ongoing scandal hurts Iowa caucuses

“Pay to play” … in Iowa? Kevin Diaz of the Strib says: “The man behind the allegations of ethical and financial irregularities in U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s 2012 presidential campaign said Wednesday that the ongoing scandal has diminished the Iowa Caucuses and the economic benefits that go with them. Amid fresh evidence that conservative Iowa State Sen. Kent Sorenson was paid first to support Bachmann and then former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, the term ‘pay for play’ is being bandied about to describe the Hawkeye State, not Chicago. … In a letter to Iowa’s Senate secretary, [Bachmann’s former faith-based organizer Peter] Waldron said that the citizens of Iowa ‘do not deserve to have their state legislature soiled by the behavior of one’ individual, and urged a quick resolution to the Sorenson affair, which is being examined by a special investigator.”

The con story of the day comes from bucolic Northfield. Kaitlyn Walsh of The Northfield News writes: “A Nerstrand woman who also works for the city of Northfield faces felony charges after allegedly receiving checks in large amounts at Northfield City Hall and depositing them at local banks, including about $23,000 swindled from a victim living in Hawaii. Sandra K. Bremer, 62, was charged with multiple felonies, including theft by swindle and concealing the proceeds of a felony theft by swindle, according to the criminal complaint filed in Rice County District Court on Wednesday. … She faced a felony charge last summer, after police said she helped a man she met on the Internet steal more than $35,000 from several people. Between September 2010 and February 2011, Bremer completed 24 wire transactions to nine individuals overseas for more than $35,000, according to last year’s complaint.”

After their exhausting work in D.C., Minnesota’s congressional delegation is home for a couple of weeks. Corey Mitchell of the Strib writes: “U.S. Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen will feel more heat this summer as liberal activists plan to confront the Republican congressmen wherever they go, relentlessly pressing them on hot-button issues such as immigration, gun control and the health care overhaul. The intensified effort comes as President Obama is urging supporters to spend the next month speaking out on issues as part of an ‘Action August’ effort lead by Organizing for Action, an activist network that sprouted from his campaign.” They wouldn’t dare disrupt the town hall meetings, would they?

One of the champions of the monarch is right here in Minnesota. In the Strib, Andrew Wagaman writes: “Every time a monarch butterfly emerges from its chrysalis and unfurls its delicate wings, Karen Oberhauser stops to watch. … The 57-year-old Roseville woman runs the university’s Monarch Lab, as well as a series of projects that have uncovered some of the monarch’s mysteries. She’s rallied conservationists, engaged educators and galvanized a community of ‘citizen scientists’ to track and count monarchs. This summer, she earned the White House’s ‘Champion of Change’ award.”

One of the essential admonitions of American life has to be … “Save Your Receipts”: Bill Salisbury of the PiPress reports: “If you are doing back-to-school shopping, the Minnesota Department of Revenue reminds you to keep your receipts. You could use them for tax breaks on your 2013 state income tax returns. Those tax benefits are expected to save Minnesota parents nearly $33 million next year. … The department doesn’t know how many eligible taxpayers fail to apply for the benefits. Some 279,000 families claimed school-expense tax breaks in 2011, according to the Revenue Department. The state offers tax breaks for school-related expenses for kindergarten through 12th grade students attending public, private or home schools.” Does this include parking permits for upscale suburban high schools?

Maybe … this will work. Rupa Shenoy at MPR reports: “Police Chief Janee Harteau said Wednesday that a new committee of community leaders will help draft an action plan in coming weeks to address the root causes of community dissatisfaction with the department. … Harteau also said she would be receptive to a federal investigation of the department but wants to start with the work of the committee.” Give the committee a day’s head start …

The Glean“About a third … Tim Nelson of MPR says: “Builders of the new Saints stadium in St. Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood say they want about a third of the 500 construction jobs to go to minorities and women. St. Paul officials said today that the project would ensure that minorities and women are included with a plan that calls for 32 percent of workers to be minorities and 6 percent women.     Toward that end, Mayor Chris Coleman [announced] a two-year recruiting and training effort for the project. It will include a Web-based clearing house and job fairs near the worksite. Coleman said the project will pay workers an average of $48 an hour, for a total of $4 million in wages.”

Good ongoing coverage of a lawsuit involving a for-profit college by Alex Friedrich of MPR: “Former Globe University / Minnesota School of Business dean Heidi Weber continued her testimony today in her whistleblower suit against the school. I’ve already summarized what she had to say in my coverage of her suit, but here are some more details. When Weber became the network dean of Globe’s medical assistant program in 2010, she said, the program was ‘in disarray.’ Some campuses were struggling with academic problems, struggling to maintain accreditation, and had a hard time providing students with the externships they needed to successfully complete the program. Soon after she began working at Globe, Weber said, she began to ‘piece together what was going on’ in the school’s culture. She said that once students enrolled, ‘concern for the student was over. Every question was: How does it help the organization from a business standpoint?’ ” I know, you’re stunned.

Stadium finance-watching blogger Neil de Mause, at Field of Schemes, drops his hammer on Patrick Reusse of the Strib: “[N]ow that the entire Vikings funding scheme [e-pulltabs] turns out to have been a fraud, it’s time for Twin Cities journalists to start jumping off the bandwagon. The Star Trib’s Patrick Reusse chimes in … by complaining that Vikings fans will have to pay for seat licenses (suggesting that because Vikes owner Zygi Wilf once reneged on a real estate deal, it’d be fine for Minnesota to do the same on the Vikings stadium). This on top of a Reusse column last week complaining that Vikings management is griping about new development near the stadium taking up precious tailgating space. All of which is well and good … Except when you remember that when the Vikings deal was in progress, Reusse wrote that it had to be approved or else the team would move to Los Angeles. … And that he only bemoaned the lack of attention to the ‘financial realities’ of the deal once it was done, and then not in the Star Trib but on a radio station’s blog. This isn’t just intra-journalistic snarkiness: The Vikings bonds still haven’t actually been sold … so it’s not too late for the state to tell the Vikings that if they still want a stadium, they’re going to need to come up with a source of revenue that isn’t totally imaginary. That’s not going to happen without public pressure, though, which would require the public actually being informed about those ‘financial realities’ by news reporters.”

Comments (17)

  1. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 08/08/2013 - 07:22 am.

    Wee little doubts about the Wilfs’ financial assurances

    The judge in the racketeering case found that the Wilfs had engaged in an extended practice, over time, of falsifying financial records to her Court, to the extent she said, “I do not believe I have seen one single financial statement that is true and accurate,”.

    The first thing that comes to mind is: isn’t it a crime to falsify records to a Court in a lawsuit ? Someone has to swear to the truthfulness of such records. If you’ve sworn falsely, is it perjury ?

    Next, if the Wilfs falsified financial statements to a Court in a legal proceeding, and you are a creditor who loaned, say, some millions to the Wilfs – based on their financial representations – wouldn’t you wonder whether they had been truthful to you ? Wouldn’t you wonder whether you had been schnookered into taking on more risk in the deal than had been disclosed to you ?

    Finally, suppose you are a prospective new creditor. The Wilfs come to you to borrow money to support this new project. Wouldn’t you wonder whether you could trust them ? Put another way: since there could be more risk than you can know, would you want to do business with them ?

    If you were appraising the value of the franchise for some business purpose, wouldn’t these recent revelations gum up the works in your appraisal ? What is the value of the Vikings’ franchise NOW ? How do Minnesotans feel about the Wilfs and the Vikings NOW ?

    If you were a Minnesota legislator or its Governor, wouldn’t you want to re-examine this whole matter before taking further steps in support of a racketeer ?

    Despite Lester Bagley’s assurances to the contrary, I’m betting the Wilfs and the Vikings are going to have some real and ongoing consequences – including FINANCIAL consequences – from the NJ racketeering case.

    • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 08/08/2013 - 09:10 am.

      ummm Steve??

      No, we wouldn’t. The train’s left the station. Like it or not, time to move on.

    • Submitted by Jim Camery on 08/08/2013 - 10:05 am.

      Pure as the driven snow

      I don’t know why we shouldn’t take Lester Bagley’s assurances at face value. He’s never led anyone astray.

  2. Submitted by Rod Loper on 08/08/2013 - 07:54 am.

    A racket right here ?

    How can we trust the local media to vet the stadium deal when the y have such a big stake in the deal from so many angles? Think real estate, media access, advertising for example.

  3. Submitted by ALAN BELISLE on 08/08/2013 - 08:43 am.

    tax deductions

    OK, I’m not the “get off my lawn” type of neighbor. I believe in educating the youth of today so that they grow up to be productive, well-employed, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. And I am willing to pay part of my real estate taxes to fund the schools. But why is it that a person like me, who has never had any children, pays the same amount of taxes to the school district as the family with 5 kids? And furthermore, the family with kids gets some major tax deductions for those kids, even including the cost of their school supplies. So on the bottom line, I am actually paying MORE for their kids to go to school than they are. Not fair and not right. How about applying that $33 million to a “no kids” tax credit or property tax relief?

    • Submitted by Alec Timmerman on 08/08/2013 - 08:59 am.

      You benefit

      Whether you have no kids or a zillion, you, as a citizen, benefit in thousands of ways both obvious and subtle for having a solid school system. Your taxes a not paying for “your” kids, just like my taxes are not paying for “my” kids. They are paying to help ensure a stable society we all live in.

    • Submitted by Richard O'Neil on 08/08/2013 - 12:22 pm.

      ” Not fair and not right.”

      Surely you are aware that these costs are rolled into your annual real estate tax assessment and results in a tax deduction on YOUR federal income tax return and indirectly on your state tax return. So you do get some offset. For the parents of the kids, the credit/deduction for the out-of-pocket costs is a minuscule benefit when compared with the total cost of having a kid. Take my word for it.

  4. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 08/08/2013 - 09:25 am.

    Globe University

    Readers may not know that a former chair of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents, David Metzen, is provost at Globe University.

    Dr. Metzen’s role in this matter casts dishonor on the University of Minnesota.

    For further information, please see:

    Former Chairman of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents Stonewalls in Position as Globe University Provost


    Bill Gleason
    University of Minnesota alum and faculty member

  5. Submitted by richard owens on 08/08/2013 - 09:35 am.

    Reps. Kline and Paulson Town Hall meetings:

    It makes perfect sense for these two guys to answer to “…hot-button issues such as immigration, gun control and the health care overhaul…”

    How you could forget the most egregious slight on their constituents of all?

    A Farm Bill that responds to the needs of an industry doing pretty well, while simultaneously begrudging food stamps to families where one in four are poor children is in the very depths of Republican House shame.

    If either of them stood up for the needs of our most vulnerable, they might salvage some basic dignity for themselves.

    • Submitted by Richard O'Neil on 08/08/2013 - 12:54 pm.

      The Farm Bill

      They get price supports when crop prices are low, subsidized crop insurance to mitigate the effect of natural disasters, unrestricted rights to pollute our streams and rivers from fertilizers, and very generous and immediate tax write-offs for purchases of trucks, autos, and farm machinery. No wonder farm land is at historic highs. I would like to hear them defend these programs and their rationale for denying food stamps.

      • Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 08/08/2013 - 01:10 pm.

        And all they do in return…

        …is feed the world. Those terrible farmers!

        • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 08/09/2013 - 09:07 am.

          Kind of, but not really

          The market should still rely on some level of demand. This new version of the Farm Bill decouples the benefits to farmers from their job of supplying the demands of the population. That is, farmers don’t farm out of the good of their hearts. They SELL their crops. Every job has risks, and it’s not unreasonable to insure against those risks. But the rationale for coupling food stamps to the Farm Bill in previous versions was, in return for insuring those crops at a subsidized rate, the government created a subsidized demand for the food produced by those farmers. Food stamps create a demand for the product that farmers produce and, hopefully, increase farm stability. By decoupling these, it has become very clear that the farm INDUSTRY (I’m not talking about family-owned farms) are now being subsidized as businesses, not food producers.

        • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 08/12/2013 - 07:44 am.


          Ah, the ol’ “they’re feeding the world” argument, designed to shut down all further discussion on the subjects of farm subsidies (welfare) and rampant pollution. The reality is most of the crops are not going to feed the world. Instead they’re going into the production of high fructose corn syrup, ethanol, and livestock feed to artificially fatten livestock. That’s just what the world needs to keep from starving: sugar water and burgers chock full of hormones and antibiotics.

          What will they roll out as their next argument? “Just think of the children!”

  6. Submitted by James Hamilton on 08/08/2013 - 11:05 am.

    $48 an hour?

    I hope that includes benefits.

  7. Submitted by James Hamilton on 08/08/2013 - 11:07 am.

    Is Mr. de Mause suggesting

    that Mr. Reusse is a news reporter? He gave that up decades ago.

  8. Submitted by Barbara Skoglund on 08/08/2013 - 02:16 pm.

    History of tax credits and deductions

    If you did into the history of tax credits and deductions they are the result of the GOPs efforts to defund public education. When the GOP pushed for school vochures so they could avoid paying taxes that supported public schools and get a “refund” to spend at MPA, Breck, Cretian or whereever. The tax credis and deductions were the “compromise.” They were put in during the Carlson years.

Leave a Reply