U of M professor Richard Painter exploring run for U.S. Senate seat

Richard Painter
Richard Painter

You might recognize him as ‘that guy on cable TV.’ Says the Star Tribune’s Judy Keen: “Richard Painter, a University of Minnesota law professor and prolific TV and Twitter critic of President Donald Trump, said Wednesday that he is forming an exploratory committee that could lead to a campaign for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Al Franken and now occupied by Democrat Tina Smith. Painter said at a State Capitol news conference that although he’s a longtime Republican and served as chief ethics lawyer in George W. Bush’s White House, he’s unsure whether he would run as a Republican, Democrat or independent.” 

Fergus fracture. At MPR, Dan Gunderson writes: “A 127-year-old vacant state hospital is dividing the community of Fergus Falls, leaving bad feelings some worry will linger far into the future. ‘It is an emotional issue,’ said Otter Tail County Historical Society executive director Chris Schuelke, who strongly advocates for saving the entire hospital. City leaders have wrestled for more than decade with what to do with the iconic structure that once housed as many as 2,000 patients treated for a variety of mental illnesses. After 17 failed redevelopment efforts, the city is asking the state Legislature for $8.9 million to demolish most of the massive structure.”

The contretemps over at Wellstone Action continues. Also from the Strib’s Keen: “Intensifying a dispute with Wellstone Action, the nonprofit created to honor the late U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, his sons David and Mark Wellstone this week asked the organization’s top donors to press it to remove their family name and answer financial questions. … The siblings’ letter noted ‘swirling dark clouds of controversy, unanswered questions, and doubts about the very survival of the organization,’ which trains candidates and campaign workers. In a statement, Wellstone Action board member Jeff Blodgett called the letter’s assertions ‘specious.’”

More details on that bizarre incident on I-94, also from MPR’s Gunderson: “What began as a routine Minnesota State Patrol call to help a couple in the ditch near Moorhead nearly ended in tragedy Monday after the trooper discovered the car was stolen and one of the two raised a gun to the trooper’s head and pulled the trigger. The gun did not fire, and the trooper was able to shoot and wound the woman in the arm, Clay County prosecutors said Wednesday as they charged the other passenger, a man, with receiving stolen property, giving police a false name and obstructing the legal process.”

Says another MPR story, “A University of Minnesota student employee is facing child pornography charges after investigators say they found a half dozen illegal videos on his computer. Federal prosecutors say Christopher Scott Pfoff, 28, of Minneapolis used a peer-to-peer file sharing network to distribute videos depicting the sexual abuse of teens and prepubescent children.”

Stanek on ICE. Mila Kuompilova of the Strib reports, “Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek has been cast by critics as an amenable ally to immigration authorities. But a trove of e-mails and letters obtained by the Star Tribune shows he repeatedly clashed with enforcement officials in recent years over the transfer of local jail inmates into federal custody. Immigrant rights advocates and elected officials have questioned what they see as a cozy bond between the Sheriff’s Office and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). But the correspondence reveals a more tense and more complex relationship.”

In the PiPress, Dave Orrick reports, “Grabbing someone’s buttocks, over the clothes, is not currently against the law in Minnesota. There’s actually a specific exception that excludes ‘the intentional touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of the buttocks’ from the state’s sexual conduct statutes. On Wednesday, a state Senate committee unanimously approved getting rid of that exception, which would make grabbing the buttocks in an aggressive or sexual manner an offense of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct. That’s the same level of offense for groping other private parts, trying to pull off someone’s undergarments, and masturbating or exposing oneself in front of a child younger than 16.” 

People love change. The Strib’s Adam Belz reports: “To relieve a worsening shortage of housing, Minneapolis planners have suggested allowing the construction of four-unit apartment buildings in virtually any neighborhood. City Council members have been briefed on the plan, which could transform vast swaths of the city now limited to single-family homes. Increasing residential density to accommodate a growing population and drive down the cost of housing in Minneapolis was a campaign priority for Mayor Jacob Frey and Council President Lisa Bender. The proposal to lift zoning restrictions in single-family neighborhoods is one part of a draft comprehensive plan, which the city will release later this month.”

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