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Group backed by Koch brothers targets GOP, DFL legislators

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Residents in Edina received 11-by-6 inch glossy mailers claimimh their legislator wants to raise taxes “even more than Mark Dayton.”

A new round of political mailers is arriving in selected mailboxes around the state.

Americans for Prosperity Minnesota, the conservative political advocacy group affiliated with the Koch brothers, has targeted legislators who have proposed tax increases that the group claims exceed the tax hikes proposed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

Residents in Edina (represented by DFL state Reps. Paul Rosenthal and Ron Erhardt) and in Rochester (represented by GOP state Sen. Carla Nelson) recently received 11-by-6 inch glossy mailers. The mailers claim that their legislator wants to raise taxes “even more than Mark Dayton.”

“We are trying to educate citizens and urging them to contact legislators,” said John Cooney, APM’s state director.

The mailers are vague about which taxes the legislators are proposing to increase, but a visit to the APM website provides details. It says Rosenthal is proposing an increase in the metro-area transit tax, Erhardt a gas-tax increase and Nelson an increase in the cigarette tax. The website also lists more than three dozen other tax bills and authors.

Nelson is livid about the mailer. “It’s blatantly false, it’s just wrong,” she said. “The cigarette tax is revenue neutral because all of the increased revenue is used to buy down the business property tax.”

Her justification doesn’t impress Cooney. “Her tax on cigarettes exceeds by 40 percent the governor’s proposal,” he said.

Cooney said that three more legislative districts will receive similar mailers by the end of the week. Furthermore, he said, APM will push out email alerts to its members about tax and regulatory issues that are the group’s core concerns.

To aid in this effort, Cooney said, APM gathers activists every Tuesday at the Kelly Inn in St. Paul, just across from the Capitol complex. They discuss and flag legislation that they consider exceeds Dayton’s tax increases.

While APM defends this approach, Nelson finds it absurd. “This is a case where they either didn’t read the bill or just saw the three-letter word ‘tax,’” she said.  “My proposal is tax reform.” And, she adds, given her conservative credentials, “my district isn’t buying”  the attack in the mailer.

Rosenthal also contends that APM doesn’t understand the legislation for which he’s criticized.  Rosenthal has authored legislation to provide bonding money for a southwest light-rail line and said he co-authored a bill to raise the sales for transit as a back-up. “This is just another way of going about to fund projects if the bonding is not approved,” he said.

Rosenthal chuckled when told that both Republicans and DFLers are targets of the APM mailers. “Well, good for them on that,” he said.

Political affiliation and reputation don’t figure into an APM decision to go after a piece of legislation and its author, according to Cooney. “We don’t engage in personalities; we are not trying to prop them up or defeat them in an election,” he said.  “We want to educate citizens on how they voted.”

Cooney promised that the mail would keep coming. “I’m sure we will be active well beyond the next election,” he said. “We are not going to give up.”

Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/03/2013 - 09:46 am.

    What these legislators do not understand is that any deviation from ALEC-written legislation is unacceptable. Under the guise of “states rights”, the Koch brothers and ALEC seek to create a uniform system of state laws that are neutered with respect to corporate and wealth interests

    Deviation will not be tolerated..

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/03/2013 - 02:12 pm.

    Who really cares?

    Does anyone really care what the Koch brother think? If so, why?

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 04/03/2013 - 02:44 pm.

    I looked at their website

    Gag me. It’s the usual right wing pablum about not liking taxes. Nowhere to be found on the website is a clear statement of a goal beyond the meaningless propaganda term “economic freedom.”

  4. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 04/03/2013 - 03:47 pm.

    Unfortunately, we can’t ignore that voters pay attention to what they receive in the mail, via this kind of glossy half-sheet filled with ignorance. The Big Money right wingers keep mailing out this kind of attack because it works.

    It’s important to have articles like this point out that the people behind these expensive attack pieces are ignorant of what they’re talking about. And hope for the best with voters being better informed than these Koch folk.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 04/03/2013 - 08:44 pm.

      Check That

      The Kochs are very well informed. They just have different values than the rest of us.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 04/03/2013 - 09:23 pm.

      How well did it work for the right wingers…

      …in the last election cycle ? They pretty much got their butts kicked in spite of all that reactionary money spent on all those attack ads. Maybe the good ole days when slander swung elections just ain’t so good anymore.

      I should think the Kochs would be disappointed, especially with all the hand-wringing since then by the state and national GOP – about delivering a better message, or delivering their message better, in order to survive; in order to not repeat another debacle that folks like the Kochs and Karl Rove bought them.

      I don’t think these folks are doing anyone any favors – least of all themselves. So I’m less worried about their influence than before.

  5. Submitted by Jim Bernstein on 04/04/2013 - 12:56 am.

    Badge of Honor

    I wish Minnesota legislators – conservative and liberal – would accept that it is truly an honor to be attacked by the Koch Brothers and their lapdogs, the misnamed “Americans For Prosperity”. If they have targeted you, it means that you are working on behalf of Minnesotans to insure that government is effectively providing services to the people of Minnesota.

  6. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 04/04/2013 - 07:45 am.

    Um – where’s the disclaimer that Brucato worked for the Koch brothers? There’s a real problem with the MinnPost model where every other reporter (not to mention the publisher) as a built-in conflict of interest.

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