Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are alive!
And they’re spying for Norm Coleman and Ben Golnik
Update on October 3rd:
Here’s the word from Edina’s city attorney and the mayor. When an organization such as the League of Women Voters hires out the city hall, and council chambers for an event like the recent legislative forum, it is not “public space” for 1st Amendment purposes. The licensed organization gets to set the rules on photographs and recording, and to enforce these rules, with the help of law enforcement if necessary. These rules don’t have to be the same as the Council sets for itself.
The League of Women Voters posted several conspicuous notices around the chambers that photographs and video or audio recording were not permitted. The LWV wants to prevent an indecorous and disruptive environment. In view of the fact that the forum will be rebroadcast many times on cable television, and available for viewing on the League of Women Voters – Edina website, the rule against video being taken is a reasonable one.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern insisted on taking video even after they were asked by the LWV not to. Somebody should have called the cops; they are right across the hall.
But Tom Steward, former Norm Coleman media flak, brayed about it as a serious First Amendment violation in a post he wrote for a website called watchdog.org. He is apparently the entire “Minnesota Bureau” of watchdog.org, which is in turn an activity of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. The Franklin Center is a conservative media propagandist based in Alexandria, VA; it has even won a Breitbart award.
It must be hard for Tom, after oiling around the U.S. Capitol, listening to the footfalls of his own feet in marble corridors, to be reduced to trafficking in provocation.
Hmmmmmm, and Norm Coleman? Where have I heard that name before? Oh, yes! He’s the mufti of the Minnesota Action Network, described below, who sent either Rosencrantz or Guildenstern, I am not sure which.
Dario Anselmo and Norm Coleman are apparently pretty tight (see photo below). I’m sure a word from Anselmo or his campaign chair, Cam Winton, would have cleared the Republican Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from the room. I wonder why they didn’t do it? Since they were being hosted by the LWV, it would have been the well bred thing to do.
The current incarnation of these fumbling spies showed up at the District 49 candidate debate at Edina City Hall on Monday night, September 22nd. (The first of probably several stories about the debate can be read here.) A surly and slightly gelatinous — and undoubtedly otherwise unemployable — pair, they were clad in black, and armed with tiny black video cameras mounted on flimsy black tripods.
We saw another member of this pack at a town hall meeting in Edina during the session last spring, although he was better dressed, and had a better tripod, but he seemed a little nervous.
There was one at the DFL summer picnic in Edina as well. And to mix the imagery, for which I am justly famous, they’re like chiggers. For those of you who have never even visited the South, chiggers are miserable, ankle-biting pests, related to spiders, and responsible for itching sores and rashes. Hellish itching sores.
I am inclined to think that some camera house has a special package on laughable, cheap video gear, or that Republicans just got a deal by buying in bulk. Come to think of it, Andy Parrish did have a similar camera last cycle.
Anyway, Rosie and Gillie proceeded to video the debate, even though it was being professionally recorded and broadcast live on the local access cable channel 16 by the staff of the City of Edina. The video will be rerun on channel 16 many, many times before the election. I think it is going to be embedded on the League of Women Voters – Edina website, too. That’s where I’ll go if I want to watch something in the debate again. (Yes, now you can see the LWV videos here.)
After the debate, these two sidled up to the DFL candidates (both incumbents, by the way) who were engaged in conversation with constituents and tried to catch something good on video. Luckily, it was a coolish evening, and everyone was wearing socks. They undoubtedly caught expressions of annoyance as they were swatted away, because they were there to provoke them.
Who were this pair of black clad, slightly gelatinous chigger-spies, really?
According to them — they wore no credentials — one was from the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, and the other was from the Minnesota Action Network. The men from MJC and MAN.
Just for fun, I asked the Anselmo campaign if it had anything to do with the chigger-spies. And unlike the many, many emails I’ve sent to the campaign these past months, I got a speedy reply, Don’t look at us; we’ve never seen these Bozos before in our lives. Honest.
For some reason, I am put in mind of this photograph.
So now, again 400 words into the project, we come to the subject of the story: the Minnesota Jobs Coalition and the Minnesota Action Network. The major domo at the MJC is Ben Golnik, while Norm Coleman is in charge of the MAN.
The MAN was the source of the reptilian — and utterly stupid — hit lit piece on District 49A incumbent DFLer Ron Erhardt several days ago, claiming that Rep. Erhardt, the chair of the Transportation Policy Committee in the Minnesota House, was neglecting roads and bridges.
In addition to the debate, there was another interesting event this week: the updating of the camfi reports of Political Action Committees and Funds. It’s been in all the papers. The MJC and the MAN filed new reports which you can read at these links:
You might want to open these reports and keep them open because I’ll be referring to them.
You will conclude, correctly, right away that Norm Coleman is much better at putting the arm on people for money than Ben Golnik is. Norm manages to do this while lobbying for Saudi Arabia, which wants us to lob lots of $150 million dollar missiles at an ephemeral enemy, ISIS or ISIL; we don’t even know what the enemy’s name is. Norm also runs a federal Super PAC; he is the Man for All Seasons.)
You might remember in my earlier story about the lit piece and MAN, I said that the MAN had raised only $500 in its entire existence (it was formed earlier this year) up through its Campaign Finance Board report filed just before the August primary. But boy, that Norm Coleman is good. In about six weeks, he brought $350,000 over the transom. From two contributors. Pretty good, huh?
One contributor was Rosen Diversified, the alter ego of southern Minnesota’s swine scion — and Sen. Julie Rosen’s ex — kind of a Stewart Mills with a better haircut. Probably. That contribution was $50,000, made on September 5th.
The really interesting one, though, for $300,000, was from the Minnesota Action Network. That probably sounds like the group itself, and there is no other information in the camfi report about it, other than the address, which is the same post office box drop as the registered organization. The contribution was made on September 15th.
Really, though, this MAN is the unregistered evil twin to the registered MAN. U-MAN has undoubtedly been collecting money from anonymous donors for months and recently showered the R-MAN with at least part of the cash.
The only material expenditure shown on the camfi report is about $35,000 to in outfit in Virginia, the state, not the Range city, Public Opinion Strategies, for “polling.” Probably polling with questions like, “If you knew that Mark Dayton was a meth head, would you vote for him?”
R-MAN has sent out several hit lit pieces like the one sent to voters in Edina about Ron Erhardt. There is no mention of expenditures for those obviously expensive flyers in the R-MAN camfi report, even as unpaid bills, and even though the flyers were sent much earlier than the date of the report. Those expenses clearly should have been accrued.
And what about staff costs? Is treasurer Gina Countryman working out of the goodness of her heart? How about the chigger-spy?
Maybe Norm gets stuff for free. Not only the Man for All Seasons, but the Miracle Worker, too!
The Minnesota Jobs Coalition has a similar setup. There is an R-MJC and a U-MJC. Back when I was younger and more naive that I am now, last summer that is, I filed a complaint with the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board about this arrangement, saying among other things, Gee, don’t you think that U-MJC was probably formed to influence elections and should be registered with the Board? And what about the finances of these outfits? Is is possible that U-MJC is paying the bills for R-MJC? Things like staff costs for the executive director? (I didn’t think to ask about trackers, but I should have.)
The Campaign Finance Board told me, in a decision dated September 2nd, not to worry, that everything was fine.
Curious to me, though, is an entry dated 6/12/14 in the R-MJC report linked above (the report dated September 23rd). It’s a contribution from the U-MJC for $30,000 for “staff costs.” Don’t you love the round number?
The funny thing is, I didn’t remember this entry from the pre-primary report filed on July 28th. And you know why I didn’t remember it, friends?
Because it wasn’t there. It was backdated into the September report.
So perhaps I was on to something after all.
Update: Thanks to Jeff Kolb for pointing out that the transfer of $30,000 from U-MJC to R-MJC, dated June 12th, was disclosed on the R-MJC pre-primary. I apologize for the error.
The contribution shown on the pre-primary was intended to reflect contributions to U-MJC, passed along to R-MJC for independent expenditures against, inter alia, Mark Dayton.
Regrettably, this is the post-Citizens United world we live in. One of the things the Supreme Court said in its reasoning in giving corporations the right to spend money as speech was that disclosure would make the whole thing transparent for everyone to see.
We should be so lucky. U-MAN and U-MJC are Exhibits A and B in the case why the Supreme Court was full of beans.
But in Minnesota, entities that are formed for the primary purpose of influencing elections are supposed to register with the Campaign Finance Board. Exhibits A and B pretty clearly were, and should be registered under Minn. Stat. sec. 10A.14, subd. 1 (2013).
If the Campaign Finance Board was more hard-nosed about enforcing that, it would be much more difficult for the Exhibits A and B of Minnesota to pull the kind of sleights of hand they currently, and regularly do, examples of which are noted in this story.
Update: MJC and MAN are just two political fund/committees out there with unregistered evil twins. In the scheme of things, in fact, these two are really just scrubs, the tip of the sausage, so to speak.
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