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Resume claims like Julianne Ortman’s can trip up a campaign

MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
Earlier this month, state Sen. Julianne Ortman, with husband Ray at her side, announced her intentions to seek the Republican nomination to run again Sen. Al Franken.

A training video by the National Association of Personnel Services, a trade organization for employment recruiters, asks a group of recruiters how many believe the resumes they handle contain false statements. Everyone raised their hands.

State Sen. Julianne Ortman, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, is far from alone when it comes to statements on her website and Facebook page that pad some of her accomplishments.

“The practice of boosting one’s resume is pretty rampant and widespread,” said long-time executive recruiter Dave Dodge of Headwaters Search, a personnel consulting service. “Background checks and resume checks are much more stringent these days than they used to be, [but] it’s not going to catch everything that people might put on a resume.”

Ortman’s website states that she—in partnership with her husband, Ray, an attorney—argued “several very high profile and ground-breaking cases in state and federal court, and in the United States Supreme Court.”

Her Facebook page implies she had direct involvement in the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, stating she “was one of many from across the nation who argued in the Supreme Court that the plan violated the limits of the Commerce Clause; ultimately the Court agreed, but upheld the mandates in Obamacare as a constitutional use of Congress’s power to tax.”

Brodkorb checks claims

Michael Brodkorb, a political consultant respected for his skills in opposition research, says he checked the Ortman claims in response to a media inquiry.

According to Brodkorb, an official with the U.S. Supreme Court says Ortrman has never been admitted to the high court bar and has never argued a case before the justices.

As for the Ortman’s statement about her role in opposing the Affordable Care Act, Brodkorb says Ortman was in session at the Minnesota Legislature in March, 2012, when the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing the arguments. She was, he acknowledged, a signer to an amicus brief, as was state representative and GOP candidate for governor Kurt Zellers.

Ortman’s campaign manager, Andy Parrish, maintains the resume claims are accurate, that a brief is part of a Supreme Court case and that Ortman’s husband did argue before the justices as part of a legal team with a firm where he once worked.

Gray area

Tangential involvement in a project can be a resume gray area, said Dodge. “It’s inherent in anybody’s work that it’s not 100 percent [theirs],” he said. “We encourage people to say what were the results of those facts you put down.”

Few resumes contain outright lies, according to Dodge’s experience, although he did recount a job search for a client who held a position with Boeing managing aerospace engineers. A background check revealed no record of the degrees from the schools the client claimed he attended. “It would lead you to believe he had falsified all that information, and yet he was working to help build the planes that you and I fly in,” Dodge said.

Ortman’s resume inflation doesn’t affect life and death situations. In fact, stretching claims as a political candidate isn’t even a violation of campaign laws.

But, Brodkorb wondered, why should Ortman pad her resume at all? Her resume is respectable to begin with, he said, adding: “There’s no need or necessity to manufacture legal work when the legal work she’s done was respectable and her political resume is incredibly qualified.”

Opposition researchers are often used in high-profile campaigns, looking for claims that raise red flags.

Brodkorb, for example, was part of the Republican team that researched Mark Dayton in the 2010 governor’s race. During the campaign, Dayton made frequent references to his experiences as a public school teacher in New York City, statements that drew the attention of GOP researchers. “Completely accurate,” he said. “We got records from the New York public schools. You’re just pulling independent verification of facts. It’s not that you doubt or disbelieve, it’s a matter of building a documented case file.”

Ortman’s claims could make her vulnerable to her opponents for the Republican endorsement and nomination—Mike McFadden and Jim Abeler—or ultimately to Sen. Al Franken.

“It can really trip you up,” Brodkorb said. “The smartest the thing the campaign could do is take it down, rework it and put it back up.”

Comments (24)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 08/14/2013 - 08:25 am.

    …why should Ortman pad her resume at all?

    Insecurity, need for approval, ambition for greater power.

    The core of jelly within many people.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/14/2013 - 09:38 am.

      Even more

      She is padding her resume to give herself right-wing cred. It’s one thing to be a member of the Legislature. It’s another thing to raise your voice against the Islamofascist government takeover of Medicare. That’s the kind of thing that resonates with the Republican base.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/14/2013 - 08:33 am.

    This is similar

    I suppose to Barack Obama claiming he was a “constitutional law professor,” when in fact he taught three courses on race and the law as a “senior lecturer” at the University of Chicago Law School.

    • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 08/14/2013 - 09:33 am.

      Please do your research, Mr. Tester

      “From 1992 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004, Barack Obama served as a professor in the Law School. He was a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996. He was a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004, during which time he taught three courses per year. Senior Lecturers are considered to be members of the Law School faculty and are regarded as professors, although not full-time or tenure-track. The title of Senior Lecturer is distinct from the title of Lecturer, which signifies adjunct status. Like Obama, each of the Law School’s Senior Lecturers has high-demand careers in politics or public service, which prevent full-time teaching. Several times during his 12 years as a professor in the Law School, Obama was invited to join the faculty in a full-time tenure-track position, but he declined.”

      University of Chicago Law School

      See also:
      Prof. Barack Obama, Constitutional Law III: The Course Outline

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/14/2013 - 11:08 am.

        My point, gentlemen

        is that saying you taught three courses on race and the law would be a truthful resume statement.

        Saying you were a “constitutional law professor” conjures up a different role in the minds of most voters and would be resume embellishment. Which is no different than what Ms. Ortman is being accused of.

        • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 08/14/2013 - 01:57 pm.

          I think your intent was to create a false equivalency. You represented as ‘fact’ that Obama only taught three courses on race, and this has already been disproved in this very thread, by the very law school he worked for. AGAIN, Barack Obama WAS a Professor at the UC Law School. He WAS regarded as a Professor for 12 years (92-04). I cannot speak to the content of all the courses he taught during that period (at least 24 for 96-04, if he was teaching three per year), but to your other assertion that his courses were all about race, “Constitutional Law III” doesn’t seem inherently a race-based course, based on the title.

          Long story short, simply repeating a lie does not make it truth. And, if Barack Obama was employed by the University of Chicago as a professor, and the University emphatically verifies that he was regarded as a professor, then he gets to put ‘Professor’ on his resume.

          Though, I expect Barack Obama has a CV instead?

        • Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 08/17/2013 - 11:55 pm.

          On the upside,

          your hapless defense of Ortmann hasn’t been worse than her own defense. I imagine at the first forum for GOP candidates, the first question for her will be, “Seriously, you’re still running?”

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 08/14/2013 - 10:04 am.


      The University of Chicago Law School states on it’s own website that it considered Barack Obama a professor. You also state that hew only taught three courses, which is incorrect. He taught three courses per year for 8 years.

      “From 1992 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004, Barack Obama served as a professor in the Law School. He was a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996. He was a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004, during which time he taught three courses per year. Senior Lecturers are considered to be members of the Law School faculty and are regarded as professors, although not full-time or tenure-track.”


      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/14/2013 - 11:06 am.


        It’s telling that the University of Chicago has a statement to debunk this very assertion. It makes me wonder which right-wing rumor mill first put this one out.

  3. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 08/14/2013 - 08:35 am.

    Ortman really didn’t need to pad her resume

    Which is what makes this situation so pathetic.

    She is a Philadephia lawyer with a pretty decent record as far as pols at her level go. I completely disagree with her but she lives in a pretty safe district for someone pushing her point of view.

    Unfortunately what sells locally may not sell statewide. Apparently Andy Parrish is her campaign manager and he should know this from his association with Bachmann. This is the big leagues, Mr. Parrish, and people will be all over padded resumes.

    You may not like Brodkorb, but his advice in this matter is correct. For the GOP and operatives to try to turn around the Ortman fiasco is hopeless. They merely call more attention to the resume padding.

  4. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 08/14/2013 - 09:50 am.

    I helped pass the Affordable Care Act

    This is like claiming I helped pass the Affordable Care Act by having voted for people who voted for it.

    In that case, because I bought Coca Cola products during the last Olympics, I helped send athletes to London for the Olympics.

    And I rode my bike tot he store yesterday, so obviously I’m helping save the world from greenhouse gases.

    • Submitted by Gerald Abrahamson on 08/14/2013 - 11:04 am.

      Wouldn’t that also mean….

      you actively helped support terrorism by buying the gas made from the oil pumped from the Middle East?

  5. Submitted by Beth-Ann Bloom on 08/14/2013 - 09:57 am.

    Speaks to character

    If you lie when there is no pressure…..

  6. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/14/2013 - 10:46 am.

    Like Bloom said….

    You lie when it’s a habit. Republicans have been “fact” challenged for so long honesty has become a real challenge.

  7. Submitted by Nathaniel Finch on 08/14/2013 - 12:21 pm.

    Interesting lede

    Ms. Brucato starts her story with the “everyone does it” meme, then gets down to the details. Well not everybody does it and Ortman should know better to think she can get away with it in a case like this.

  8. Submitted by Alice Gibson on 08/14/2013 - 03:57 pm.

    Brodkorb’s called foul on his old pals a lot recently.

    How ironic it is that the guy hired as the GOP’s foremost hitman has become the only MN Republican smart enough to know that the gig is up, and that honesty and *facts* need to return to the GOP playbook before the public will allow them back in the game.

  9. Submitted by Ethan Roberts on 08/14/2013 - 04:24 pm.

    Obama taught the 14th Amendment at UC

    A good friend of mine who is a partner at a prominent Minneapolis based law firm had President Obama as one of his Con Law professors at the University of Chicago (UC). Specifically, my friend was taught 14th Amendment Equal Protection Law by then Professor Obama as one of the three Con Law classes offered by UC. Given the centrality of the 14th Amendment to our Constitution, it is simply nonsense to argue that President Obama did not in fact teach constitutional law at UC. For what it’s worth, my friend recalls that the President was an excellent professor.

  10. Submitted by David Greene on 08/14/2013 - 06:09 pm.

    Fasifying Resumes is Common?

    I can honestly state that I’ve never put anything on a resume I couldn’t back up with ample evidence. It boggles my mind that lying on resumes is so common. And it is lying. “Padding” is just a nice euphemism.

  11. Submitted by david hanners on 08/15/2013 - 07:46 am.

    Am I the only one troubled by the fact this piece was 1) written by someone long associated with the GOP who 2) excuses Ortman’s behavior as “everyone does it” and 3) quotes Michael Brodkorb as the primary source? Just wondering.

    • Submitted by Pat McGee on 08/15/2013 - 10:11 am.

      No, you aren’t the only one…

      some of us have come to expect this from her and are more troubled by Minnpost permitting this “journalism” by press release to continue on its site.

      • Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 08/18/2013 - 12:00 am.

        I didn’t get everyone does it

        What I got from it is lying, or at least arguable fudging, on resumes is common enough that people who screen resumes all have seen it. The ramifications are serious, like being fired upon being discovered. I didn’t see anything in the article that excused it. Quite the contrary, what I take from the article is Ortman’s campaign is already derailed.

  12. Submitted by James Hamilton on 08/15/2013 - 10:09 am.

    The numbers

    A search of the Minnesota District Court on-line records identified fewer than 50 civil matters and 0 criminal matters in which Sen. Ortman was an attorney of record. The earliest record of a civil matter is 1995, the most recent 2005. Online records date back to at least 1980.

    You can look them up here:

    For any attorney to file fewer than 50 matters in state district court and yet have participated in “several very high profile and ground-breaking cases” is remarkable. It becomes even more so when one learns that Sen. Ortman began her legal career from a bedroom in her home in 1989. Perhaps she would be good enough to identify those cases.

    I have not searched comparable U.S. District Court records.

  13. Submitted by Sean Olsen on 08/15/2013 - 11:28 am.

    One notable case…


    In that case, Ortman represented Carver County Commissioner (and former State Rep.) Tom Workman in a libel suit against the Chanhassen Villager. Workman/Ortman won the case, earning a $625,000 award (the award was tossed out on appeal and ultimately Workman and Southwest Publishing came to a six-figure settlement).

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